Friday, October 14, 2005

Review: Lord of War (out 14/10)

War is stupid: Nicholas Cage (left) and
Eamonn Walker in Lord of War

Susan Sontag, when writing her famous 1964 article called Notes on Camp, coined up the phrase 'So bad it's good', which has become the post-modernist's mantra to justify guilty pleasures. But sometimes, 'so bad' really is only that, or worse: it can be horrible. Lord of War, out today (14/10), is one of those films. Directed by Andrew 'Gattaca' Niccol, it's starred by Nicholas Cage as Yuri Orlov, a Brooklyn international arms dealer of Russian ascendancy, Cage's face looking strangely embalmed, and Ethan Hawkes as the morally correct agent Jack Valentine (yes, that's right) trying to stop Orlov from facilitating carnage in impoverished and war-prone banana republics.
The film is told in flash back, with Cage's Orlov's dispensing his pearls of wisdom about international politics and the hypocrisy of the Western world on the issue of arms dealing. The intention of the film is noble, but the delivery is not. We learn that 80-90% of all illegal small arms start in the state-sanctioned trade; 16 billion of ammunition are produced each year; eight million more arms are produced every year. It's a good idea to give this information to the dead-brained crowd to whom this type of action film is aimed at.
However, it's not probable that a film full of stereotypes, stinking of mysoginy and with some of the worst dialogue exchanges an audience will ever have been subjected to will advance the humanist cause by an inch. Arthouse muso Hawkes is a fish out of water in this big-bugget production (Uma Thurman must be an expensive ex-wife) while Cage is in his territory, as the angst-ridden anti-hero. The world should declare war on films like this.

Also out this week...

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