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Lord Of War (2005)  

Review: written Apr 2009

Does for gunrunners, what Goodfellas did for gangsters

Lord Of War (2005)

A surprisingly good movie, this tale of a gunrunner over several decades of his life is not an action movie, and not just a drama. It's an all-round look at what it means to be a gunrunner - how it came about that he became one, the good times – and the bad. The effect on family and loved ones. At times serious, at times downright funny, often poignant, it's all the way through laced with its own style - a style which manages to pull off the difficult feat of mixing entertaining and thought provoking. Through frequently quite imaginative editing and narrative, the story never gets dull.

Cage is good in the role, but it's an effective supporting cast which make it really work, making his transition into such an extreme profession believable. The change from just another immigrant, to a man dabbling in the guns business, to a man sucked in by his own choosing to a world of ugliness by the lure of riches - or rather, as he puts it.. just because it's what he's good at. A particularly effective and revealing moment comes when Cage is faced with a seemingly arbitrary murder during one of his sales pitches with the pistol he is selling. His look of horror is quickly masked and replaced with indignation that the new gun has been soiled by use and is now worth less. It's a theme throughout - at one point is it no longer possible to separate the business of what you are doing from the effect of what you are doing. Does it happen immediately you start down the path - or does it happen after a time? Of note is the contrast to how his brother, played by a fantastic Jared Leto, is affected.

How far embroiled in a world can you be without being affected... it's an interesting question, and one made all the more fascinating by the context of how much gunrunning our own governments do routinely, as the movie points out.

Definitely recommended as an entertaining blockbuster - but with some brains to go with it.

Lord Of War (2005)

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