lord of war

i never sold to osama binladen. not on any moral grounds; back then, he was always bouncing cheques - lord of war.

this year was the year for political movies. it was as if hollywood had been sitting on a mountain of ideas and scripts that needed to be told, yet couldn't, out of fear of being labeled anti-american. the best of the bunch was
syriana, which i mentioned in a previous post. just as good is lord of war.

lord of war was a movie that didn't do well, that sort of was there and was gone, and that's all there was to it. i guess people couldn't figure out what it was, and neither could the movie's marketing team. was it a black comedy? was it a drama? was it a tell-all? i have a feeling that, like three kings, it would find some life on dvd. (three kings, by the way, was one of the best war films ever made. if you didn't know anything about the first gulf war, all you had to do was watch that film. problem was, people thought it was some sort of silly heist movie, which it sort of was, but it was marketed as simply a heist movie, which alienated the people that might have shelled out $10 to see it in the theater. the movie was funny, exciting, and incredibly smart in what it had to say about the gulf war).

lord of war is about gun running. it's about a man who sells weapons, small arms, to anyone willing to pay, because the profit margins are good, and business is always booming, because somewhere in the world, a war is being fought, and these people need weapons. the movie is silly in its own way. for instance, the movie spans about twenty years in the main character's life, but nicolas cage, nor the other actors for that matter, don't bother to try to age or look any different. but that's not the point. we're not talking about a coming of age story or anything; we're talking about weapons killing people, and those that sell them.'

the movie has its moments of genius, such as the opening sequence where it follows the life of a bullet on the assembly line, to its transport, to its destination at a war, and finally, to its final resting place, inside a man's head. consider another scene where nicolas cage witnesses the end of the cold war on the news and starts kissing the television, understanding that a world of opportunities has just opened up for him. or another scene where you get introducted to a batallion of child soldiers; too small to reach the pedals in a car, but big enough to accurately fire an ak-47.
lord of war is a movie where the makers know a heck of a lot about its subject matter, and it shows. it knows what damage these small arms could do; far more damage than nukes have ever done, and it knows the bigger picture of who sells them. that the lone gun runner is not the problem; it's the legitimate (mostly democratic) governments that are. this movie has got detail, and the details are interesting. there is an inherent bitterness to the whole thing, an cynical stance that if one person doesn't sell these weapons, someone else will; that even if there were no gun runners, no conventional weapons of mass destruction, people will still kill people one way or another.

there is also a short speach near the end of the movie, where nicolas cage talks about the necessity of gun runners, which compares to the corruption speach in syriana and the greed speach in wallstreet that is just horrifying in the truth of it all. along with syriana, it is the best movie of the year. too bad it couldn't find a larger audience.

i am hoping that the environment has changed enough so that more movies like this can come about. most people need to be told these things; most people don't have the time to go and do their own research, to sift through various news papers, to really dig down to get at the heart of the matter. people need movies like this that squeeze complicated issues down to their essence, and package the ideas into a two hour format. anyway, here is the
trailer. go out and rent it.