Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Lord of War

Sitting on the side in our lounge are two DVDs from LoveFilm: The Eye, a Hong Kong/Singaporean horror film from a few years ago; and Network, a probably rather dated 70s film. You know, the one with the line "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." But Wife and I just can't bring ourselves to watch either of them. So, despite the fact that they are effectively costing us money languishing there, the other night we decided to rent yet another movie.

Off we trotted to our local video store, which seems these days more like a games-rental store that happens to have a few DVDs too. What is with that?

We wanted something recent and decent: fair enough, right. And there on the shelf was Lord of War. This movie is what the Hollywood marketing machine has told us is an "intelligent film". What that means is that it doesn't treat its viewers like a complete fucking dumb-ass. It's not your typical "you'll-understand-this-even-if you're-a-fucking-moron" Hollywood fare.

Don't get me wrong: I love Hollywood. I watch a lot of mindless drivel. I buy a lot of mindless drivel. But I know it's mindless drivel, and enjoy it for what it is.

Lord of War stars Nicolas Cage, who is probably one of my favourite actors. His presence lifts even the most boring of films into something better than boring. We also knew that the great Eamonn Walker (seen here, with Cage) is in it, if only in a tiny role. Walker is a black Briton who is most famous for playing the Muslim leader Kareem Said in the greatly missed HBO prison drama Oz. So we were pretty certain this was the movie for us. But the clincher for Wife was that Jared Leto is in it too.

Cage plays an arms dealer. And the plot is essentially an excuse for a look at the politics of such a role in the world today (although it is set in the mid-1990s), and how all world leaders are essentially gun-runners for the developing nations. So it's only an "intelligent" film if you didn't already know this, which maybe lots of people didn't.

The lead actor is his usual watchable self. Leto, however, is woefully underused. He is such a great young actor and he should have had more to do. The same exact thing applies to Walker.

The problem with this film is that the director wasn't intelligent enough to realize there's absolutely no need for a "love interest" subplot. Any interactions between Cage and his on-screen wife (the woman who played Mr Big's wife Natasha in Sex and the City) are slow and boring and have no place in a movie on these themes. It's clear from the off that she's only there to lead to his downfall.

Overall, though, better than most mainstream Hollywood fare. It's a bit like a cool independent movie with a bigger budget and bigger stars. And it's got a surprisingly quotable script, too.

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Blogger The Wanted Man said...

I remember mostly liking Lord of War. Although, I didn't like the past narrative approach as it didn't really compliment it in anyway. I also found it a bit distracting that Cage doesn't age a day from beginning to end. And you're spot on, it's obvious the wife is going bring him down. Maybe I didn't like it that much! What are your thoughts on Ethan Hawke?

10 May, 2006 11:35  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

The whole thing about nobody aging at all is really rather amusing, isn't it?!

To be honest, TWM, I don't really have any thoughts on Ethan Hawke. He's good in some stuff, I guess. He was all right in Before Sunset (or whichever is the most recent of those two films), and I almost liked Tape, too. And I didn't care for Training Day at all.

But he has those terrible little shark's teeth. For me, he's a bit of a B-lister.

10 May, 2006 14:21  
Blogger The Wanted Man said...

You make a fair point about Hawke. I thought he showed real potential in Gattaca though.

10 May, 2006 15:30  
Blogger wrinkled weasel said...

I go with Ground hog day and Erasurhead, both of which featured on my A to Zee of crucial movies.(see blog)

10 May, 2006 15:40  

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