The Netflix Report

Movie reviews from my Netflix queue. Highly personal and opinionated!

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Lord Of War

On the Tomatometer, this film got a 60%. And I’d say that’s about right for the movie as a piece. It’s about 60% fascinating, engrossing, and well done – with the other 40% hanging heavy. Nicolas Cage plays a Brooklyn-born son of Ukrainian immigrants who becomes (through sheer force of will and some never explained incredible sources in the early part of his career) a supremely successful arms dealer to third-world despots.

Cage plays the part in his usual sleepy-eyed monotone, narrating events in a voice-over and living through them in the real-time action in a style meant to convey a lack of emotional involvement about the things he is participating in. Unfortunately it makes it tougher for us as the audience to care about a guy who doesn’t seem to care about the events we are watching.

The film follows a story arc a little bit like Goodfellas... The early stuff is light and easy as we develop an uneasy admiration and fondness for a person caught up in a fairly despicable business. Then the stakes get higher and the inevitable ramifications and consequences catch up with that character. But writer/director Andrew Niccol is no Scorsese. Cage’s character never really feels the downside impact. And Niccol seems to have more of a feel for outdoor location photography than interpersonal scenes on sets, so some of the emotional character-to-character stuff is marred by quick cuts from many different perspectives.

Make no mistake, this is a Message Movie (with capital M’s), and Niccol pounds it in fairly hard at the end. But I still found it a more interesting and nauseating concept than the over-lauded “Constant Gardener.” I found the final 20 minutes of the film very engaging – enough so to make up for some of the cheesy bits that had been sprinkled earlier.

Parents’ note: Not for the kiddies. There is brief female nudity, some swearing, and graphic violence and death.


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