Lord of War
|Lord of War|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrew Niccol|
|Produced by||Andrew Niccol
|Written by||Andrew Niccol|
|Narrated by||Nicolas Cage|
|Editing by||Zach Staenberg|
|Studio||Entertainment Manufacturing Company
|Distributed by||Lions Gate Films|
|Running time||123 minutes|
|Box office||US$72,617,068 (worldwide)|
Lord of War is a 2005 crime war film written, produced and directed by Andrew Niccol, co-produced by and starring Nicolas Cage. It was released in the United States on September 16, 2005, with the DVD following on January 17, 2006 and the Blu-ray Disc on July 27, 2006. Cage plays an illegal arms dealer with similarities to post-Soviet arms dealer Viktor Bout. The film was officially endorsed by the human rights group Amnesty International for highlighting the arms trafficking by the international arms industry.
Plot details 
The film begins with a voice-over introduction by Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage), a Ukrainian-American gunrunner: Over 550 million firearms worldwide means one firearm per twelve people on the planet; he wonders how to arm the other eleven. Opening credits are set to the Buffalo Springfield song "For What It's Worth", and depict the life of a 7.62x39mm bullet: from construction in a Soviet Union weapons factory, to being shipped across the world to an African warzone, loaded into the magazine of an AK-47, and fired into the head of a child.
In the early 1980s, Yuri is visiting a Brighton Beach restaurant, where a Russian mobster kills two would-be assassins. He is inspired to go into the arms trade, comparing the constant need for weapons to the similar human need for food. At his father's synagogue, he contacts an Israeli to obtain an illegal Uzi. After completing the first sale, Yuri convinces his brother Vitaly (Jared Leto) to become his partner, and they leave their jobs at the family restaurant behind.
Yuri's first big break comes in the 1982 Lebanon War, when he sells guns to all sides of the conflict, despite witnessing war crimes and atrocities. As Yuri becomes more successful in the war's aftermath, his business comes to the attention of Interpol, and in particular idealistic agent Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke). Valentine is after glory rather than money, making it impossible for Yuri to bribe him as he does other government agents within Interpol and elsewhere.
During a sale in Colombia, a drug lord pays with six kilos of cocaine instead of cash, and shoots Yuri with one of his own pistols when the two argue; Yuri had wanted cash instead of drugs. Yuri relents, later finding the sale of the cocaine paid better than money would have. After sampling their profits, Vitaly becomes heavily addicted and eventually burns through an entire kilo. After several months, Yuri checks Vitaly into rehab, and continues alone. He lures childhood crush Ava Fontaine (Bridget Moynahan) to a false photo shoot and subsequently marries her. They later have a son, Nikolai (Nicky).
Yuri's second big break is the dissolution of the Soviet Union. After Mikhail Gorbachev resigns on Christmas Day 1991, Yuri flies to the Ukraine and illegally buys tanks and weapons through his uncle, a former Soviet General. Expansion to Africa leads to Andre Baptiste Sr. (Eamonn Walker), a ruthless dictator waging a never-ending civil war in Liberia. During one flight into Africa, Yuri's cargo plane is intercepted and forced to land by a fighter jet commandeered by Jack Valentine and Interpol. He escapes arrest by landing outside of the nearby city, and by simply handing out the cargo to locals, he ensures no weapons are on the plane by the time Valentine arrives. Surveillance of Yuri and his activities continues at his home in the United States, however. Unable to charge Yuri, Valentine tells Ava he is an arms dealer, prompting her to confront him and demand he stop his illegal business. Yuri agrees, but is soon enticed back into arms trading by Andre Baptiste Sr., who offers him even greater payments in return for his exceptional skills as an arms dealer.
Yuri soon goes to complete a sale in Africa, where a militia force allied with Andre Baptiste Sr. is visibly preparing to destroy a refugee camp. When Vitaly sees the militia hack an escaping woman and child to death with a machete, he pleads with Yuri to walk away. Yuri refuses; if he backs out, the militia will simply kill the Orlov brothers along with the refugees. Taking matters into his own hands, Vitaly steals a pair of grenades and destroys one of the two trucks carrying the weapons being sold. Before he reaches the other truck, RUF soldiers shoot him. Yuri approaches his dying brother, and restores a grenade pin and tosses the inactivated grenade to one of the killers responsible. The diamond payment is halved for the remaining weapons.
At home, Ava follows Yuri to his secret shipping container of supplies. She leaves with son Nick, and Yuri's parents disown him after learning the truth. When the U.S. Customs finds a bullet in Vitaly's corpse, Valentine arrests Yuri, who predicts, correctly, that a knock at the door will signal his release as a "necessary evil" who distributes weapons so major governments can deny involvement. Despite his losses, Yuri returns to arms dealing. Yuri remarks that it's what he does best, and that arms dealers are most likely to inherit the world one day "because everyone else is too busy killing each other." His final advice to the viewer is, "Never go to war, especially with yourself."
An onscreen postscript exhorts private dealers to conduct less business than the five largest arms exporters - the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China - ironically, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
- Nicolas Cage as Yuri Orlov
- Ethan Hawke as Jack Valentine
- Jared Leto as Vitaly Orlov
- Bridget Moynahan as Ava Fontaine
- Eamonn Walker as André Baptiste Sr.
- Ian Holm as Simeon Weisz
- Tanit Phoenix as Candy
- Donald Sutherland (voice only) as Colonel Oliver Southern
- Sammi Rotibi as André Baptiste, Jr.
- Eugene Lazarev as General Dmitri Orlov
- Kobus Marx as Boris
Historical accuracy 
- The main protagonist, Yuri Orlov, is loosely based on several people.
- His character as the world's arm dominator is based on Lebanese-Armenian arm dealer Sarkis Soghanalian
- His name corresponds to the last name of Oleg Orlov, a Russian businessman arrested in Ukraine on suspicion of smuggling missiles to Iran. The real Orlov was strangled in Kiev's Lukyanivska Prison in 2007 during the investigation.
- History Channel attributes life based on Viktor Bout, a convicted arms dealer notorious for smuggling arms and other merchandise through several aviation front-companies.
- His background is loosely inspired of Semion Mogilevich, a suspected master-mind in Russian organized crime who was born in Ukraine.
- The character Andre Baptiste, Sr. is partly based on Charles Taylor, the President of Liberia until 2003.
- The character Andre Baptiste Jr. is partly based on Charles' Taylor's son, Charles McArther Emmanuel. The character wields a gold plated AKS-47, much like one found in the private quarters of Saddam Hussein's son, Uday Hussein, during the US-led invasion of Iraq.
- The character Colonel Oliver Southern obviously hints at Oliver North, most famous for his involvement in the Iran-Contra Scandal.
The conflicts portrayed in the film are all real conflicts in real countries, particularly those in Lebanon, Sudan, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. On the other side, the image of the Interpol as an acting security agency is entirely fictional.
Some of the Russian language dialogs in the film (mostly those by Eugene Lazarev as Gen. Orlov) contain very obscene Russian mat wording, translated by far softer expressions in the original English subtitles. It is unclear whether these pieces were part of the script, or Lazarev's improvisation.
A scene in the film featured 50 tanks, which were provided by a Czech source. The tanks were only available until December of the year of filming. They were to be returned so they could be sold to Libya. Many of these tanks were likely destroyed during the Libyan civil war. The production team rented 3000 real SA Vz. 58 rifles to stand in for AK 47s because they were cheaper than prop guns.
Critical reception 
Lord of War received fairly positive reviews from critics; the film received a 61% rating on Rotten Tomatoes; the consensus states: "While Lord of War is an intelligent examination of the gun trade, it is too scattershot in its plotting to connect." The film also received a special mention for excellence in filmmaking from the National Board of Review.
Box office 
The film grossed $9,390,144 on its opening weekend, ranking #3 at the North American box office behind Just Like Heaven and The Exorcism of Emily Rose. After the film's 7 weeks of release it grossed a total of $24,149,632 on the domestic market in the US, and $48,467,436 overseas, for a worldwide total of $72,617,068.
Home media 
The UK DVD release of Lord of War includes, prior to the film, an advert for Amnesty International, showing the AK-47 being sold on a shopping channel of the style popular on cable networks. The American DVD release includes a bonus feature that shows the various weapons used in the film, allowing viewers to click on each weapon to get statistics about their physical dimensions and histories. The DVD bonus section also contains a public service announcement from Nicolas Cage, addressing the issue of illicit arms sales.
Warzones featured 
- Mozambican Civil War (opening scene)
- Sierra Leone Civil War
- Lebanese Civil War
- Somali Civil War
- Soviet War in Afghanistan
- Second Liberian Civil War
- Cold War
- First Liberian Civil War
- Mentioned only
- "Lord of War". British Film Institute. London. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
- Lord of War at Box Office Mojo
- Deming, Mark. "Lord of War". Allmovie. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
- "Viktor Bout: in the Movies". Ruudleeuw.com. 2005-12-24. Retrieved 2012-10-30.
- Nov 10, 2007 (2007-11-10). "Bertil Lintner: "A necessary evil"". Atimes.com. Retrieved 2012-10-30.
- William Norman Grigg: "Permanent War, Perpetual Profiteering"
- "Lord of War" (Press release). Amnesty International. 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
- Hamid, Rahul (Spring 2006). "Lord of War/Syriana". Cineaste 31 (2): 52–55.
- Brokers of War
- Noah Rosenberg, "Guilty Verdict for Russian in Arms Trial", New York Times, 2 Nov 2011.
- Burr, Ty (September 16, 2005). "Provocative 'War' Skillfully Takes Aim". The Boston Globe: D1.
- History Television, series Fact and Film, episode "Lord of War"
- "Director finds real guns cheaper than props". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. September 14, 2005. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
- Lord of War at Rotten Tomatoes
- Lord of War at Metacritic
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Lord of War|
- Official website
- Lord of War at the Internet Movie Database
- Lord of War at the TCM Movie Database
- Lord of War at AllRovi
- Lord of War at Box Office Mojo
- Lord of War at Rotten Tomatoes
- Lord of War at Metacritic
- Guns featured in the film