Following a classic credit sequence, if not one of the best you’ll ever see, Lord of War begins delivering on all counts. It’s funny, satirical, dramatic, emotional, and all the while delivering a message to the viewer. Nicolas Cage is perfect here, putting forth his best effort in years (aside from World Trade Center), and a well-rounded cast surrounds him with equal effectiveness.
Whereas other movies toss guns onto the screen seconds before being fired, Lord of War is the story of those weapons weeks or even months before they’re in the hands of people. Cage plays Yuri Orlov, an arms dealer skirting the legal system as he dumps weapons into the hands of anyone who is willing to pay for them. The movie handles his character beautifully, both as the money-hungry businessman to the slick, quick-thinking artist avoiding the law from every angle.
Cage alone could have carried the film, yet Jared Leto is equally impressive as his brother. When not high on cocaine, Leto’s character acts as the voice of reason. His appearance in the finale is handled incredibly well, capping the film with a disturbing and thought-provoking ending.
The exploits of this arms dealer don’t deliver any surprises or shocking twists. Lord of War is a study of one man and his quest to equip the world with weapons. His entanglements are enormously entertaining, and the dry, sometimes dark sense of humor breaks the mood at the appropriate times.
Lord of War doesn’t glorify guns and it doesn’t damn them, either. It exposes audiences to this side of the trade of guns, and lets them make their own choices about what is happening with them after the sale. Loosely based on actual events, the film delivers in its goal to make people aware of the situation while also providing entertainment value thanks to Cage’s performances. Lord of War is gripping, funny, and important.
Stunning contrast lead the film’s debut on Blu-ray. Black levels are rich, and the colors are bold. The fine grain on the print adds to the feel. It doesn’t mar details even at a distance and close-ups look incredible. Some light edge enhancement (which pops up at random times) does hinder the look, however.
Compressed DTS-ES leads the audio charge, though the movie only delivers a few scenes where it’s needed. Explosions are generous with their bass, and a scene with a jet encounter is a standout. Heavy gunfire handles echo and ricocheting perfectly, and their fire has a crispness to it over the SD-DVD. Subtle use of the available channels includes waves crashing on a beach.
LionsGate didn’t bring over any extras from the DVD version. Instead, all viewers are given is a generic Blu-ray trailer and menus that are made for four-year-olds in which a narrator explains how to use everything.