Lord of War (2005)

I didn't expect this to be based on a real life, but I'm grateful that it was. From the little that I knew about gunrunning, I assumed that there would be enough true stuff out there to make a film about rather than going all XXX on the subject.

The protagonist is a naturalized American from Ukraine who comes into the business of trading arms somewhat by accident. We follow his rise to riches, concern for secrecy, and amoral transactions primarily in west Africa. There is little to suggest that he feels bad for what he does and we hear again and again his excuses for doing what he does: equipping warlords with effective killing tools.

The effects and locations were quite awe-inspiring, particularly the timelapse where a jet is taken completely apart over night. Though most of the film was certainly shot on sets, they did a great job of outside locations making us believe that we were in Lebanon, Ukraine, Liberia, or the Atlantic Ocean.

There is plenty of gratuitous nudity and violence, which I presume the film makers believed would bring more of an audience to this film (of such an important subject). I thought the nudity could have been tamed down substantially as it wasn't core to communicating the story.

I truly appreciated that there was no moralising. It is an obviously black and white issue (at least to me): we should stop manufacturing so many weapons and we should track the ones that exist. The film focuses more on the mechanics of the trade rather than telling us how bad it is. It's a smart film.

Official Site | IMDB

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