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Capone challenges the LORD OF WAR to a gentlemen's duel!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a great review from Capone on LORD OF WAR, the Nicolas Cage flick that Capone claims is actually damned good. I have to say I liked the trailer and that poster is unique and definitely eye-catching. I can see how Cage can get on people's nerves (and I'm not denying he hasn't been in a film that got on my nerves), but when he's great, he's great. RAISING ARIZONA specifically sticks out in my mind. This flick looks like it could be a real surprise and I'm really looking forward to it. Enjoy Capone's fairly spoiler-lite review!!

Hey, everyone. Capone in Chicago here. Up until about two weeks ago, when I first saw the stunning poster for LORD OF WAR, I had no idea the film even existed. There are probably some reasons for that, none of which have to do with how good the film is. My guess is that screaming, crying, and perhaps a bit of laughter in disbelief at the things detailed in this movie will not be uncommon at showing of this movie. And it’s a film I’ll be talking and thinking about long after its scheduled release date of September 16.

Writer-director Andrew Niccol as made a career of making films that ask us to look at the world with skewed glasses. With his first effort, GATTACA, he looked at the lengths one man would go for genetic perfection. with his script for THE TRUMAN SHOW, he reduces a man’s entire life into one giant soundstage. Although the end results were not always satisfying, Niccol’s second films as director, S1m0ne, wondered how much the world cares that our idols are, literally, big phonies. His last story idea, THE TERMINAL (directed by Steven Spielberg), was not all that different than THE TRUMAN SHOW in that a man’s entire world was confined to a limited space and he was being watched almost constantly. The biggest difference, of course, being that Tom Hanks knew where he was and who was watching. The greatest revelation about Niccol’s latest writing-directing effort, LORD OF WAR, is that rather than his main character living is some sort of a fantasy world or microcosm of our own society, he is living at the dead center of the real world, an all-too-real place that sometimes resembles hell, especially if you make your living as an arms dealer.

In his first film since the abysmal NATIONAL TREASURE, Nicolas Cage gives us one of the finest roles he’s ever undertaken. Yuri Orlov, the son of Russian immigrant parents, came to America when he was just a boy at took up residence with his family in the Little Odessa neighborhood of Brooklyn. Growing up, Yuri wanted two things: money and local beauty queen Ava Fontaine (Bridget Moynahan). Yuri was keenly aware that he needed one to get the other. Yuri recognizes the potential early in life that the Russian gangs in his neighborhood are grossly under-supplied when it comes to weapons, and decides to tap into the high-demand market of guns, in particular Uzis. Through a narration that guides us through Yuri’s adventures as a arms trader, he compares the first time he sells an Uzi to his first sexual encounter: Nobody knows what they’re doing, but it’s still highly satisfying.

While attending a gun show with his brother/partner Vitali (played by Jared Leto), Yuri meets the king of the arms dealers, Simeon Weisz (the wise and slippery Ian Holm), who treats Yuri like the amateur that he is. The two men meet several times during the course of the story but under vastly different circumstances, since the encounter inspires Yuri to think big, and within a few years he’s moving product to every war-torn corner of the globe. He does everything in his power to takes sides in any of the conflicts he’s selling into, and he makes a point to never stick around to see how the weapons are used (usually against someone weak and helpless). Yuri becomes an expert in his trade and in detaching his emotions from the business. He makes a point of saying that he never sold weapons to Osama Bin Laden during the war between Afghanistan and Russia, but quickly adds that it wasn’t on principal; it was because the guy’s checks tended to bounce. After a particularly nasty exchange with some drug lords in Colombia, Vitali embarks on a major coke binge that lands him in rehab and out of the guns business.

The big event in Yuri’s gun-running life (and the profession of arms trading) was the end of the Cold War. A combination of a pissed-off, unpaid military and stockpiles of unused guns, tanks, military helicopter, grenades, pretty much every mass destructor on the planet was just sitting in warehouses waiting to get snatched up. And it just so happens that Yuri’s uncle runs one of the compounds housing these armaments. As a result of this raid of Russian weapons, the AK-47 became the all-too-available gun of choice for terrorists worldwide.

The way Niccol guides us through Yuri’s world almost makes your mind explode. According to Niccol (who did a Q&A after the screening I attended), the character of Yuri is actually based on five different arms dealers and that every situation (the film takes us from the early 1980s to almost the present) is based on real events. How Yuri manipulates people and especially international arms embargo laws is terrifying. For most of the film, Interpol agents, headed by Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke), are right behind Yuri. But even when they catch him, they never have enough to hold him for long. Yuri’s greatest gift may be his ability to anticipated those out to nab him, whether it’s the law, a competitor, or even a client.

This might be an appropriate time to mention that LORD OF WAR plays like a very dark comedy. I found myself laughing far more than I figured I would, sometimes just at the sheer genius of Orlov’s schemes and sometimes at the punch-in-the-gut revelations about the warring world that Niccol’s unveils. When one particularly cruel African military dictator (played with playful viscousness by Eamonn Walker) laughs about how he has been accused of rigging elections in his country by the U.S. government and then holds up a newspaper headline concerning the botched Florida election results of 2000, you can’t help but chuckle. Or when Yuri gets a phone call from the Middle East saying that his services will no longer be required due to an outbreak of peace. “Peace treaty? But the guns are already on the way?” he says shocked.

The stronger and more dangerous Yuri’s business gets, the more likely he is to get caught and the most he seems to push his family away. Yes, he does get the girl of his dreams, and they have a beautiful son. Vitali continues his in-and-out tours of rehab clinics and skanky women. And I’m happy to report that the scenes involving his family are just as compelling as the scenes with guns. And while Leto and Moynahan both do commendable jobs in LORD OF WAR, they aren’t in the film much. Nicolas Cage has never been better; no one could possibly be as good as he is in this film (Walker comes the closest), despite the fact that he plays his part fairly low-key.

LORD OF WAR is an unparalleled look at the the world at war over the last 20-some years, seen through the eyes of a man who allows all sides of a conflict to kill each other a little longer. It’s a condemnation of world governments that, in most cases, tolerate men like Yuri because occasionally politicians need to use his services to supply those whom they cannot supply publically. But the film also, to a degree, celebrates Yuri as a thinker and schemer. Even in handcuffs or with a bullet wound in the gut, Yuri is the one in control in the most chaotic of times. Niccol admires Yuri as much as he despises him. There’s a telling sequence in which a pair of hyenas approach Yuri in the African desert as if preparing to attack. They look at him, sniff around a bit, and walk away. When the lowest of God’s creatures won’t come near you, your life is truly shit.

As much as it pains me to say it, LORD OF WAR might be too real for the mainstream. I can’t imagine that audiences will want to face this reality. Words like “arms dealers” get tossed around in action movies quite a bit, but Yuri shows us a life that has never been exposed to the elements like this before. Niccol doesn’t lay blame on any political party, nations, or leader; he’s points the finger at each and every one of them. What might end up being the most incredible thing about LORD OF WAR is that Niccol got it made with no distributor lined up or studio backing. Lions Gate (which signed on after the film was completed) has a history of taking chances like this one (probably because it’s a Canadian company) and should be applauded for putting out such a risky work. Niccol lays before us one of the most complicated scams going on in the world and makes it clear (or at least clearer) who the players are and how they get aware with such travesties. FAHRENHEIT 9/11 may have had me contemplating a move to Canada; LORD OF WAR made me call my real estate agent about properties on Mars. This is as powerful a film as you’re likely to see this year.


Email: If you want to help Capone count his Tommy Gun shells drop him an email here!!!

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 23, 2005, 11:02 p.m. CST


    by Bean_

    Congrats, never post a first message again now.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 12:19 a.m. CST

    Stupid Capone

    by angel_svn

    You're idiocy taking of the film from Michale Moore seriously enough to ponder a move to Canada and calling the Florida elections botched don't disqualify you from making reviews about movies. Too bad ... cause it gives you a forum to spew your idiocy. Still, I'll see the movie!

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 12:54 a.m. CST

    The Only Reason Farenheit Had Me Contemplating A Move To Canada

    by Ill Clinton

    Is because Michael Moore doesn't live there.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 1:15 a.m. CST

    Dance conservative monkeys, dance.

    by IndustryKiller

    You do realize they say that stuff just to get a rise out of you right? I hate to fan the flame war but it's already unstoppable. Never understood why Conservatives visit a site that espouses the philosophy of an industry that finds them repugnant and stupid. It always has and it always will. With that said this review seems sketchy at best. I know it's not a plant but methinks Capone gives this film too much credit, or maybe the ad campaign just makes this look like a FAR dumber film than it is.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 1:22 a.m. CST


    by Man-in-the-Box

    According to your logic, conservatives aren't allowed to enjoy movies, or come to a website about movies. Just curious if that's what you're saying.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 1:27 a.m. CST

    That's like saying...

    by Man-in-the-Box

    ... that liberals shouldn't read the Bible, because several loudmouth intollerant Christians don't like their point of view. Stupidity on both sides of the aisle is the real problem.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 1:30 a.m. CST

    Not what I'm saying at all man-in-the-box

    by IndustryKiller

    I'm not saying they can't enjoy movies, what I'm saying is dont be surprised that the industry doesn't like conservatives. There are plenty of movies anyone can enjoy, but when a film has a topical subject or a message it aint gonna lean conservative. Ever since Vietnam at least (and probably just post WWII) the film industry has been in direct opposition with conservatives. You don't see many prominent conservatives in Hollywood. Even some of the more reputable ones like Clint Eastwood and Robert Duvall are more centerist and do not speak in favor of the far right. If you don't like seeing a liberal viewpoint then I'm afraid the movie industry isn't a place you want to go looking too deep into, and if you do just be aware of what you are going to get and you aren't going to change it. These people are artists and questioning authority and conservative philosophy is what they do. Thank God. I'm certainly not complaining.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 1:37 a.m. CST

    And I'm not saying....

    by IndustryKiller

    all films are liberal shill machines, but there is an unarguable liberal slant in general. And yes I know a lot of the action films in the 80's were sort of Reaganesque but it's just an overall atmosphere. Also when I say these people are artists I know for every Sean Penn (a incomparably brilliant actor no matter what you think of his politics) there is an Ashton Kutcher (I think one thing Liberals and Conservatives can agree on is that he must be removed from Hollywood with pitchforks and torches)

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 1:54 a.m. CST

    Good points

    by Man-in-the-Box

    I'm just tired of people using blanket statements on both sides. It is frustrating that if you say you're a conservative, some will automaticly assume that you're some sort of rabid Bush backer, or that you're intollerant of any opposing viewpoint. There are intelligent people on both sides, and there are goddamn putzes on both sides. If one considers each issue from all sides, and comes to their own conclusions, they're ahead of the game. It goes the same for the morons who say that if you're a liberal you're a moron. By making these blanket statements your closing your mind to some really good people. Just because an industry is slanted one way or the other politically, doesn't exclude people of the other political side from enjoying the fruits of their labours. I think I'll stop now; I appear to be rambling.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 1:54 a.m. CST


    by ShadowSorkin07

    was one of the best I've read on the site. I'll be there on opening day. By the way, as Clinton once said, if you look at an agurment logically, Dems usually win. You cons are just angry and overweight, even though you're in power. You konw why? because you're empire is dying, and you know it. You can have these last five years, we'll take the next twenty. You know you're weak when your main selling point is fear.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 2:02 a.m. CST


    by Man-in-the-Box

    Thanks for making my point.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 2:07 a.m. CST

    fuck you all

    by geek molester

    here we go again with the politics. If I wanted to read posts by a bunch of blow-hards jerking off to their idiotic political arguments I'd go to And way to jump on the Michael Moore is a fat sack of shit bandwagon, that's an origional well-thought-out argument. Never heard that one before! PROPS dude. Now blow me.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 2:09 a.m. CST


    by Man-in-the-Box

    "if you look at an agurment logically, Dems usually win. You cons are just angry and overweight," Is this how you look at an argument logically?

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 2:09 a.m. CST


    by ShadowSorkin07

    I didn't read what you had posted above me, if I had I wouldn't have added that last part. I generally agree with your point, and personlly think that we should be trying to talk more about the review itself and the movie, then a single line from the entire review.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 2:15 a.m. CST

    I'll back off now.

    by Man-in-the-Box

    I usually don't get drawn into this kind of thing. Actually, the review didn't bother me at all. I get fired up when people on both sides spout garbage, I'm looking at you Lando. You've got to expect some political discourse when talking about a movie like this. On a side note, I do want to see this.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 2:16 a.m. CST

    I Never Said Nothing Like That Shadow

    by Ill Clinton

    For shame, for shame.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 2:20 a.m. CST

    Dems usually win

    by Greased Deaf Guy

    and when they don't they blame it all on their parents or society or the lamp on the other side of the room.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 2:21 a.m. CST


    by Man-in-the-Box

    I'm surrounded by brilliance.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 2:27 a.m. CST

    "it was because the guy

    by moviemaniac-7

    I am dying to see this movie. I like Niccol's output so far (even S1m0ne - flawed, but good - and The Terminal - sweet and nice, but no Spielberg material). Gattaca rules and so will this one.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 2:35 a.m. CST

    Good luck marketing an "arms dealer comedy"

    by Doc_McCoy

    (as that's the marketing route they've apparently decided to take with this)

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 2:35 a.m. CST

    I'd never actually heard of this, but it sounds good

    by Monkey Butler

    And if it's shit, it's Herc's fault.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 2:37 a.m. CST

    OMG Harry, it should be gentlemens' duel. Geez, hope someone

    by Monkey Butler

    Aint irony grand?

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 2:41 a.m. CST

    Hey Monkey,

    by Man-in-the-Box

    If this works, it's the trailer.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 3:46 a.m. CST

    It always takes twice as long reading a review on this site as a

    by kuryakin

    Trying to unravel the mangled English. Movie sounds OK but both S1mone and Gattaca seemed to really confuse audiences with their weird tone, so I don't know if this one will play well. In fact what am I saying? I know it won't. Still, an empty theatre is a quiet theatre, so that'll work out well for me.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 4:19 a.m. CST

    peep the trailer

    by geek molester

    it looks pretty craptastic there isn't one funny line in the entire trailer. Wait my bad: "Can you bring me the gun of Rambo?" "Part 1, 2, or 3?"

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 5:01 a.m. CST

    Eh boys, any chance of actually talking back about LORD OF WAR?!

    by Erik_Richmond

    Fuck politics...

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 6:30 a.m. CST

    Another great review by Capone.

    by CurryIce

    The trailer looked promising and i hope it's really that good.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 6:41 a.m. CST

    Sounds like a remake

    by Blueberry

    Back in 1974 Italian comedy king Alberto Sordi wrote, directed and acted in "Finch

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 8:11 a.m. CST

    glad the film is not pandering to mainstream sensibilities...

    by ectocriminal

    the film sounds as if its trying to find the humor in our fuct and tragic global epidemic of violence. the work of richard pryor is a great example of using humor to pry into civil rights issues, to make them okay to talk about and joke about in front of a nation. queer eye for the straight guy and will and grace helped the gay community in the same way, by bringing 'gay' into the forefront of our society but keeping it lighthearted and with a self-aware and at times self-depreciating sense of humor so that potential bigots didn't see it as a threat. as for the whole michael moore thing, he did do more damage to the last election than good for it as the republicans played up moore's opinions of the war/economy as being kerry's views as well, which they were not. if people want to do a favor for the democratic party, look up barack obama, senator from illinois, a democrat and liberal who is the single most promising candidate democrats have for a presidential campaign. if you want to support republicans staying in power, support michael moore. as for lord of war, i'll probably see it even though nick cage often bothers me.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 8:14 a.m. CST

    angel_svn, I'll start paying attention to your arguments...

    by Uncooked_Meat

    ... when you learn to write a coherent sentence. Good review, Capone, but I agree, leave your personal politics out of it. That aside, looks interesting, and might get me out of my "I hate Nic Cage" funk that I've been in since Con Air. This and Ghost Rider may well save him.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 8:50 a.m. CST

    anyone remember Deal of the Century?

    by Ace Hunter

    Anyone remember when Chevy Chase was funny? Also, I pulled out of my "Nicholas Cage sux" funk after Adaptation.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 8:59 a.m. CST

    anyone remember AICN?

    by billwiser

    when is the last time this site broke a real story? it's all trailers, okay sneaks, and...dvd reviews. what's happening? lord of war sounds surprisingly decent - but the trailer was so flashy and packed with one-liners that i doubt it unloads genuinely scathing social commentary.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 9:47 a.m. CST

    regardless of the polotics

    by Noeland

    This movie looks like it's going to suck. It just isn't a captivating storyline, and the lead characters look like the type the audience will have trouble connecting with. It's also too obvious on it's poloyics if you ask me. I'm not the most polotical guy in the world, and even I am thinking it's only going to hurt the film. Also, agree with Billwiser, ever since Harry has become a part of the industry he used to only look at from the outside, this website has certainly changed. Reviews and trailers are great, but so are the juicy rumours we have not heard before!!

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 9:49 a.m. CST

    and my first campaign promise?

    by Noeland

    That I learn how to spell POLITICAL. :) hahahahaha

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 10:44 a.m. CST

    Sounds too much like Friedkin's DEAL OF THE CENTURY

    by Spacesheik

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 11 a.m. CST

    Can't Wait

    by Saluki

    This and the Robert Baer based flick, 'Syriana' were going to be released on the same day, but I'm glad to see they both backed off. They're both looking very refreshing. Good to see actual real world problems dealt with in fiction instead of 'Talking Car Must Win Race' or 'Ghost N 'Shit!' crowding the theaters.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 11:21 a.m. CST

    The trailer isn't marketing the film properly.

    by Christopher3

    It looks like a overpriced, failed action spectacle getting dumped in the September graveyard. If it's as smart as Capone thinks it is, then trailer really needs to be recut.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 11:25 a.m. CST

    R.C.'s opinion: The film has potential. I am impressed tha

    by R.C. the "Wise"

    On another topic, did you see how many post there on in the AQUAF@G TB? I think they'll surpass 2500 post when it's all over. hahahaha! That TB had an array of topics Ranging from the political, to the social issues, and the completely absurd topics. :^D

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 11:26 a.m. CST


    by ThisIsTheGirl

    -excellent use of the phrase "goddam putz". I don't know about gentlemen's duels, but there sure are a lot of gentlemen on this talkback.....

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Gattaca and Simone ...

    by Pvt. Duke

    If memory serves, the combined gross for those two flicks is somewhere in the area of $25 million dollars. Ouch.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 11:32 a.m. CST

    But still ...

    by Pvt. Duke

    Lord of War looks to triple that. Hopefully. Looks cool.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 1:06 p.m. CST

    "When i read Capone's review of Lord of War, it made me cont

    by JackRabbitSlim

    Damn ... 3600 bucks a week for the fat farm... damn...

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 4:13 p.m. CST

    I thought this was gonna be a light piece of action fluff

    by Hamish

    Thanks for the review Capone, this is now squarely on my radar. And sorry that there are so many fucking morons bitching at you because you mentioned Michael Moore instead of focusing on the other thousand words you wrote about the movie. When they start WWW2 those clowns aren't invited.

  • Aug. 24, 2005, 8:11 p.m. CST

    Meat ... You're Right

    by angel_svn

    Sorry about my sentence structure ... I wrote it too quickly and tried to make adjustments too fast ... and then hit send like a moron. BLAH! However ... I'm irritated because people in this forum bitch about politics when this jackass Capone puts his politics in his reviews. Is it somehow wrong to respond to that ... as one poster insinuates ... as long as the grammar is good! See you in hell.

  • Aug. 25, 2005, 10:29 a.m. CST

    The lowest of God's creatures?

    by sTalking_Goat

    Fuck you Capone. Hyenas a small, fast and vicious. And extremely intelligent. A pack of hyenas will take down an animal twice or three times their size. Not by rushing in and getting pummeled in the process, they'll wait and harrass the animal for hours until it tires itself so much it can hardly stand. A bunch of hyenas will distract a lion while the pack mates swipe its food. In a fight against you and pair of hyenas I'd bet on the hyenas.

  • Aug. 25, 2005, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Spare me,

    by Nizzuts

    Ok, first of all, allow me to purchase your bus ticket to Canada. If you think that Dipshit Moore and a Nic Cage movie are fitting commentaries about the state of war over the past 20 years, then you belong in Canada. Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down, are good commentaries about what war is like because they are pretty realistic from a soldiers point of view. Anyway, I think I will wait for the DVD on this one. I don't know if I can handle a remake of Deal of the Century. Thanks for the heads up Capone. (the Cubs suck)

  • Aug. 26, 2005, 5:42 a.m. CST

    Thanks ThiIsTheGirl...

    by Man-in-the-Box

    and you're fuckin' A right about the gentlemen up in here.

  • Aug. 26, 2005, 8:31 a.m. CST

    Lord of War - Anti-bush rant . Yawn - ho hum

    by Fandude

    After reading this review I'm looking into moving to a totally different dimension from ours or perhaps another universe. "Rigged elections" YAWN - it's old stuff, let's all get over it. This obsession at Bush and co. is harming the creative collective. the Creatives are digging their own hole and deep, in obsessing about this current admin. To all future war filmmakers, please stop the crappy Bush-bashing and make something truly creative and beautiful. Don't let Bush rent space in your head, entertain us. fandude

  • Sept. 12, 2005, 12:25 p.m. CST

    fuckin' last

    by Man-in-the-Box