Mar 132019

When I last saw Lord of War 13.5 years ago, I wasn’t completely enamored beyond the acting and… my opinion roughly remains the same, some solid performances though I guess I was more engrossed with the story this go around.



Lord of War

Genre(s): Drama, Thriller
Lionsgate | R – 122 min. – $22.99 | March 20, 2019

Date Published: 03/13/2019 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: Andrew Niccol
Writer(s): Andrew Niccol (written by)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Jared Leto, Bridget Moynahan, Ethan Hawke, Ian Holm
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: 4K, Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (Dolby Atmos)
Video: 2160p/Widescreen 2.40
Dynamic Range: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codecs: HEVC / H.265
Region(s): A, B, C

Lionsgate provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

THE MOVIE — 3.25/5

Note: This portion was copied over, with minor changes, from my review published in September 17, 2005.

“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?”

Lord of War stars Nicolas Cage as Yuri Orlov, a Yugoslavian who immigrated as a child to Brooklyn. During the early 80s and the Cold War, he decides (through the violence which infested his neighborhood, as he realized the money that could be made) to go into the lucrative — and dangerous — arms selling (trading) business. He brings in his brother, Vitaly (JARED LEO) to watch his back. The two become very successful in the business, but the dangers catch up to them — and not the dangers of the guns, but the outside elements. Vitaly becomes addicted to cocaine (where Yuri was merely an occasional user), but Yuri’s descent came with his success… The more guns he delivers and the more he turns his head at what they’re doing to others, he becomes a mere shadow of what he was.

During his reign as one of the world’s most renowned arms dealer, he also marries his old neighborhood crush, Ava Fontaine (Moynahan; I, Robot), who is now a famous model. But all through his dealings and ever so brief examination of the morality of what he’s doing, the old saying is true: You can’t teach an old dog new trick.

Some people compare this to perhaps the 21st century version of The Godfather and while on a technical level director Andrew Niccol’s visual style is excellent and is on a grand scale, there was little about this film that I found to be powerful. Given the message (and at times, in my opinion, propaganda) the film presents, it’s a certain shame. This is not to say that the movie is about the personal rights to own a gun (never have and likely never will; not my thing), it isn’t. I am merely saying that Niccol’s satirical take on the world, was too much for me. Back to The Godfather reference, I realize the connection: Both it and Lord of War are films about a criminal mastermind’s rise and fall and his uncontrollable nature to keep breaking the law because he doesn’t know how to do anything else.

I have never been a fan of the cynical movie, so I can only speak to those who perhaps feel the same way as I do. This film just did not impact me as other “message” films have in the past (see: Hotel Rwanda). But, as I said, on the technical and acting levels, Lord of War is actually quite good and is the prime reasons for the rating I have given.

Nicolas Cage gives a very good and even one of his better performances in his career. It’s difficult to translate a character so bad, so evil, to the screen and still make it watchable, and for this he did succeed (for the most part). For their parts, the supporting actors do alright with characters which needed more depth to them. That said, Leto still gives a “good enough” performance which work in with other roles such as Fight Club or even Panic Room.

Bridget Moynahan has slowly been making her appearance in Hollywood films for years now going from the craptacular Coyote Ugly, to the Ben Affleck’s lover in The Sum of All Fears to co-starring in the summer blockbuster I, Robot. With each new role, Moynahan proves she can be a solid asset to any supporting cast.

Joining Leto and Moynahan are Ian Holm (The Lord of the Rings) as an arms selling competitor and Ethan Hawke (Gattaca) as Jack Valentine (love those Hollywood character names), an ATF agent pursuing Yuri. Two very solid actors adding dimension to a story which needed help. By the way, Donald Sutherland “appears” as a US colonel (though he’s never seen, only a few words).

I realize some say that this is not a “message” film and to just go into it as just another movie, and I guess you could do that, but in my own opinion, the director’s own views are put at the front, so much that it is hard to ignore. Why else would this be a satire? In any case, Lord of War is certainly NOT a bad movie. There are many aspects to appreciate, so I don’t think you would be disappointed going to see it… I just wasn’t floored by it as some have been thus far.

I know that at this point my review is pretty much a ramble than anything coherent, so just to sum things up: Lord of War certainly has its merits, but my biggest problem is it presents information that indeed may shock some, it’s actually quite logical. The United States, United Kingdom and other countries have done things to defeat their enemies. Is it right? At times, sure. Other times, absolutely not. This film, while the end monologue tended to be a bit on the preachy side, lets you choose (though based on the scenes on hand, you’re kind of led in a certain direction).



This release comes with a glossy slip cover and inside a redemption code for the Digital Copy. Most of the features from the 2-Disc DVD have been ported over (only one not was a useless guns bio) but only on the 4K disc, the Blu-ray is barebones.

Features include an Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Andrew Niccol, The Making of Lord of War (20:28) behind-the-scenes featurette, Making a Killing: Inside the International Arms Trade (15:14) featurette on the real-life aspect of an arms dealer, and 7 Deleted Scenes (6:34).


VIDEO – 4.75/5

Lord of War takes aim onto the 4K Ultra HD format presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and given a wonderful looking 2160p high-definition transfer. Lionsgate 4Ks do tend to look rich on the format with amazingly sharp detail and the natural film grain and noise was retained. There were no apparent or obvious instances of banding or aliasing so it is a clean looking picture while colors are bolstered thanks to the HDR (Dolby Vision is also available for those with the systems to decode).

AUDIO – 4.75/5

The disc comes with a Dolby Atmos track which is probably a slight upgrade over the Blu-ray’s DTS EX 6.1 audio. For the most part this is a dialogue-driven film but there is some good examples of depth during the various gunfire that do pack a good punch, not to mention the occasional explosion. Although it does sound great, not quite sure it’s reference quality work…


OVERALL – 3.75/5

When I last saw Lord of War 13.5 years ago, I wasn’t completely enamored beyond the acting and… my opinion roughly remains the same, some solid performances though I guess I was more engrossed with the story this go around, but on the whole I found it to be a slightly above average drama. This 4K release offers up excellent video/audio transfers and a good amount of bonus features.





The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>