Anyone who has fired a rifle will remember the recoil. Indeed, novice marksmen are often surprised at its effect, which sends many shots far astray of their intended marks. Now helming his third film, writer/director Andrew Niccol ought to know by now that movies also have a kick. But with his newest picture, Lord of War, which stars Nicolas Cage as an international gun runner, Niccol doesn’t just miss his target—he can’t seem to figure out what it is.
Ostensibly a dark satire of the world of illegal arms sales, Lord of War sprays uneven rounds in too many directions, swerving between caustic black humor, overly earnest family drama, and bland thriller tropes. Cage plays Yuri Orlov, a Brooklyn immigrant who smells profit in selling guns to hometown gangsters but quickly moves into the more lucrative international market. With the help of his druggie brother Vitaly (Jared Leto), Yuri builds a successful career dealing black-market arms, woos his childhood crush Ava (Bridget Moynihan) and avoids Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke), the pesky Interpol agent on his tail.
The problem is that Niccol never decides which conflict he wants to drive the film, and the result is a firestorm of confusing narrative threads that ricochet haphazardly through their beats without a clear sense of purpose.
Read the complete article at National Review Online.