Lions Gate Movie •••½Picture/Sound •••• Extras •••½
Writer/director Andrew Niccol's Lord of War is an action thriller for those who have no taste for action thrillers, which means it's unlikely to find its proper audience. That's a shame, because this tale of an intelligent and unapologetic black-market arms dealer (Nicolas Cage) is funny, exciting, and ceaselessly entertaining - even as it delivers a message about how Western superpowers export death to the Third World for profit and political gain. Niccol pounds on that message perhaps a bit much, but his aggressive visual style and witty dialogue win the day. Shot largely in South Africa, Lord of War has images that are crisp and vivid, the wide-open spaces contrasting sharply with the forced intimacy of barbarism and murder. The sound is equally brash. The director's commentary on this two-disc set is wonderfully frank, and other extras include a featurette, deleted scenes, and a 15-minute piece on the real-world gun trade has so many astonishing statistics, you may wonder if Niccol hasn't understated his case. [R] English, Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES; letterboxed (1.78:1) and anamorphic widescreen; one dual-layer and one single-layer disc.