‘Lord of War’ on Netflix

Nicolas Cage in Andrew Niccol's 'Lord of War'

“There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?”

The opening line of Andrew Niccol’s Lord of War (2005) captures the film in a phrase: it’s serious, it’s sardonic, it has a sense of humor and a sense of outrage as it takes on the reality of arms dealing in the world.

Nicolas Cage is the Russian-American Yuri Orlov, who finds his path from the slums of New York’s Little Odessa to the American Dream through arms dealing. Niccol uses his rise from selling guns on the streets to illegally running weapons and military equipment to hot spots all over the world to shine a light on the enormous business in international arms trafficking over the past two decades: the tentacles of the industry, the relationships with military leaders and government officials, the pay-offs, and most importantly the complicity of the American government.

His presentation of the material may not be subtle, but it is passionate and it is entertaining, maybe entertaining enough to get his message out to audiences that wouldn’t otherwise consider the issue. Ethan Hawke (star of Niccol’s directorial debut Gattaca) co-stars as the driven Interpol agent who makes catching Yuri his personal mission and Eamonn Walker is memorable as the brutal African warlord who gives the film its name.

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About Sean Axmaker

Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears in Vulture, Turner Classic Movies online, Keyframe, and Parallax View.

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