Lord of War (2005): This Movie is a Fest of Snooze [Joey’s Review]
We’ve made it to the most recent decade of Cage’s career. We’ve still got 30+ movies to go in 10-11 years, so there’s plenty of #CageClub left. Don’t worry! But we’re also entering the era of his career where the internet becomes critical of a lot of the choices he makes. We’re just a year away from THE WICKER MAN, which the internet really loves to make fun of (wrongfully so, but we’ll get to that). Instead, though, the internet should throw its derision at a movie like LORD OF WAR, which is a fest of snooze.
See what I did there? Just like warlord becomes Lord of War, snoozefest becomes fest of snooze.
Actually, I shouldn’t mock that line, because it’s delivered by the only character in the movie that’s defined in any reasonable manner. Cage is a Ukrainian immigrant named Yuri Orlov, except maybe he’s not because his family pretended to be Jewish in the 1970s? I’m not sure. He’s brothers with Jared Leto, who wants to be a cook except he’s not good at it, so Cage gets him to to be his second-in-command as a gunrunner. I wish I could tell you more about either character, except I can’t really. Oh! Leto likes cocaine. Cage doesn’t, and then he does.
The reason I brought up The Wicker Man is because of perception and artists’ intent. In Lindsay Gibb’s book, she talks about how Cage and the filmmakers behind The Wicker Man made it with the intention of being over the top. It’s been said that Cage wanted to sport a gigantic, old-timey mustache he could twirl like a maniacal villain. Not knowing any of this, you may think the remake of the 1973 classic is a disaster from start to finish. With this knowledge? Who knows! We’ll get there soon.
Lord of War begins in a way that makes it seem like it’s just as over-the-top. Cage turns to the camera to talk about how 1 in 12 people in the world have guns, and his goal is to figure out how to arm the other 11. It’s so on the nose and unlike anything else we’ve seen in #CageClub that it seems like it has to be sarcastic. But it’s not! I don’t think. Neither is the “life of a bullet” we follow over the film’s opening credits, from manufacturing all the way through its final resting place inside a pre-teen’s skull.
Nothing about Lord of War is fun. It’s overwrought and underwritten and feels like it needs to tell An Important Story instead of making a coherent movie. It’s “based on actual events,” but also seemingly based on GOODFELLAS, as it follows the exact same story. One particularly scathing IMDb review sums that up nicely, and our podcast guest mentions it, too. Essentially, Lord of War tries to tell a three-hour story in two hours, and (predictably) fails at it.
This movie looks beautiful. The colors are vivid and a lot of the imagery is eye-catching. But the script is bad, and it’s full of unnecessary voiceover (what would Mr. McKee say, Donald Kaufman?). If you watch this movie — and I don’t suggest you do — you’d be best served to watch it on mute.
How can I watch it? It’s on Netflix!
What’s up next? We’re finally at the movie where Cage is carrying a crossbow on the cover for some reason: THE WEATHER MAN.