Lord of War is a 2005 action-drama film written and directed by Andrew Niccol and starring Nicolas Cage.
Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage), an American gunrunner of Ukrainian origin, stands in a sea of spent shell casings. He states that with over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation, there is one firearm for every twelve people on the planet- and ponders how to arm the other eleven. The opening credits follow, set to Buffalo Springfield's "For What it's Worth". The life of a 7.62x39mm round is depicted as it is made in the Soviet Union, shipped to a warzone in Africa, loaded into the magazine of an AK-47 and fired into the head of a child soldier.
In 1982, through voice-over, Orlov describes the beginnings of his career. After he sees a Russian mobster kill two would-be assassins in a restaurant, he notices that the restaurant's purpose was to fulfill a necessity for food, so he decides to fulfill a necessity by providing firearms. He partners up with his brother, Vitaly (Jared Leto), and forms his own arms business. Yuri's first break comes during the 1982 Lebanon War, during which he sells guns to all sides of the conflict.
As his business grows, Yuri tells of his first incident with Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke), an Interpol agent who is unusually idealistic and refuses bribes of any kind. Just before Valentine and a team of Interpol agents board a freighter of Yuri's, the Kristol, he orders the crew to paint on a new name. Tricked into thinking they have found the Kono instead, the Interpol agents leave after an Interpol intelligence operative on Yuri's payroll calls in a false sighting of the Kristol.
During a business deal with a Colombian drug lord, Yuri is paid with six kilograms of cocaine instead of cash. The drug lord refuses to pay with anything else, and quickly becomes furious when Yuri argues that he deals in arms, not drugs. Shot during the argument, Yuri gives in and takes the cocaine as payment. Vitaly takes one kilogram to get high, and becomes addicted.
Yuri checks Vitaly into a drug rehabilitation center. From that point onward, he conducts his arms business alone. Soon after, he courts model Ava Fontaine (Bridget Moynahan) after forging an elaborate scheme where Yuri lures Ava to a false photo shoot. Together, they marry and they have a child named Nikolai (Nicky).
Yuri gets his second big break after the Soviet Union dissolves. Yuri rushes to Ukraine after watching Mikhail Gorbachev's Christmas Day 1991 speech of resignation on television. He begins illegally buying tanks and other weapons from Ukraine's new military to expand his operations.
Yuri expands his weapon sales to conflicts in Africa, most notably in Liberia. His business garners him a close relationship with Andre Baptiste Sr., a ruthless dictator responsible for much of the conflict in Liberia as well as the use of "child soldiers".
Unable to charge Yuri for his crimes, Valentine reveals to Ava that Yuri is an arms dealer. Ava convinces him to stop dealing. Yuri reveals that it is not the income that has fueled his career, but explains, "I'm good at it". Yuri complies for a short while, but finds it difficult to earn as much through legitimate business. He is lured back in when his old client, Andre Baptiste Sr., promises very good pay.
Yuri brings Vitaly along to Liberia, claiming he can't trust anyone there. However, Baptiste reveals that the weapons are intended for the RUF rebels of Sierra Leone. During the transaction, Vitaly sees a group of RUF rebels kill a woman and her child with machetes, and tries to convince Yuri to stop. When Yuri refuses, Vitaly takes a grenade and blows up half the gun shipment, killing Andre Baptiste Jr. in the process. He runs to the other truck to destroy the other half, but the soldiers with whom Yuri has been negotiating with shoot Vitaly. Yuri then approaches the mortally wounded Vitaly, only to retrieve the activated grenade and return it to the very soldier who had shot his brother.
Back at home, Valentine follows Ava as she finds Yuri's security container. She and Yuri's parents disown him. Yuri is arrested after a bullet is found in Vitaly's chest as it passes through customs. Valentine, convinced that he can now find evidence to convict him with, tells Yuri that he has found his security container. However, Yuri reveals to Valentine that his superiors at Interpol will not allow him to be convicted, as he has positioned himself as a "necessary evil," someone who is able to distribute weapons when first-world governments do not wish to become directly involved. This proves to be true, and Yuri is released after United States Marine Corps officer Colonel Oliver Southern speaks to Valentine. Despite all personal losses, Yuri returns to his career in weapons trafficking.
A brief postscript notes that, while private arms dealers do conduct a lot of business, the five largest arms exporters – the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China – are also the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
Anatoly Orlov: Is this how you want to be remembered?
Yuri Orlov: (chuckles) I don't want to be remembered at all. If I'm being remembered, it means I'm dead.
Yuri Orlov: Where there's a will, there's a weapon.
Jack Valentine: Since your so concern with the law, you must know that I am legally permitted to hold for 24 hours without charging you. You might ask why I would do that, and I can assure you its not because I enjoy you company because I don't. *No*. The *Reason* why I will delay you for *every sec* of the permissible 24 hours is I'm delaying your deadly trade and the deaths of *your* victims. I don't think of it as taking a day away from you but giving a day to them. Some innocent man, woman or child is going to have an extra day on this Earth because you're not *free*. So I will see you in 23 hours and 55 mins.
|Release Date||16 September 2005|
|US Box Office||$24,000,000|
|Tagline||The first and most important rule of gun-running is: never get shot with your own merchandise.|
|Genre||Crime, Drama, Thriller|
|Filming Locations||Bozi Dar aerodrome, Bozi Dar, Czech Republic|
|Language||English, Ukrainian, German, Spanish, Russian, French, Arabic, Turkish|
|Sound Mix||DTS, Dolby Digital, SDDS|
|Film Class||Political Drama, Crime Thriller|
|Themes||Political Corruption, Rise and Fall Stories, Sibling Relationships, Existential Crisis, Cons and Scams, Crisis of Conscience|
|Tones||Cynical, Biting, Ironic, Confrontational|