Lord of War (2005)

(In theaters, September 2005) Being disappointed with Lord of War feels a lot like being ungrateful given how it’s already better than most of what you’ll see in theatres this year. This docu-drama about the life of an international weapon dealers is heavy in sardonic humour and originality. On the other hand, sometimes it slips and grinds to a halt as it clumsily goes for earnestness when cynicism works so much better. Nicolas Cage works wonders with a role that plays so well with his image, but the real star of the show is writer/director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, S1m0ne). His script, based on real events, offers a unique and even daring look at the recent history of gun-running, with details as fascinating as any documentary. A number of crunchy scenes enliven the show, from a life-of-a-bullet opening credit sequence to the highly entertaining aftermath of an emergency plane landing. The movie suffers from trying a bit too hard to be moral in the last third (we already know that arms dealing is bad, m’kay?), but recovers just in time to conclude with a final three minutes of savage realism. Lord Of War is good, but the worst thing about it is that it’s just good enough to make one see how it could have been even better. It’s sort of a Goodfellas-lite, but it could have been a Goodfellas-full.

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