Box art for Lord of War

Lord of War

drama, thrillers

Chance leads Yuri Orlov to discover his one talent - illegal arms dealing. With his brother's help, he reaches the top of his trade, supplying anyone whose check clears.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
3 out of 5
5 out of 5

Ambitious but uneven; way too violent for kids.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie is about an international arms dealer and includes explicit images of explosions, gun battles, dead bodies. An early, striking sequence follows a bullet from manufacture through sales and shipping to its eventual endpoint in a boy's head -- the screen goes red. It also features frequent cursing, smoking, sexual promiscuity and unclothed female prostitutes, as well as drug use; one of the dealers becomes a serious cocaine and heroin addict, the other becomes addicted to the rush of selling contraband. The film reduces complex points about international markets and politics.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the brothers' relationship: how does Yuri take advantage of Vitali? How does Yuri's lying to his wife, Ava, become a metaphor for lying to himself? What is the function served by dogged Agent Ryan, whose moral position seems almost quaint alongside the high stakes rolling of the arms dealers? As the film argues that Yuri's deals are small potatoes next to corporate and government contractors, how does it take a stand against Yuri and/or how does it generate sympathy for him?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 4
    see all Lord of War reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews


- Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed, Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rotten: I'm beginning to get discouraged about Andrew Niccol.

- Joe Lozito, Big Picture Big Sound, Saturday, October 18, 2008

Rotten: This film fails so miserably don't be surprised to find yourself often rooting against the supposed good guy.

- Kam Williams, Upstage Magazine, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

3 stars

Nicolas Cage is the perfect choice for a large scale arms dealer, dodging the arms of justice and juggling a luxurious private life at the same time. His tale is a bit predictable, especially the character of his brother, and the episodic flow isn't exactly full of exciting highlights. Instead it is giving a realistic, yet satirically exaggerated image of this business no one knows about yet still manages to have its say in the big conflicts of the world. The almost documentary, yet beautifully filmed , style makes the movie feel a bit anti climatic, but the final scene between cage and Ethan Hawke and the conclusion is heavy stuff. Entertaining and interesting, but could have dug even deeper than it did.

- ironclad1609, Tuesday, March 10, 2009

4 stars

The first time through this one, already a couple of years ago, I wasn't really paying attention, and I don't even think I got to the end. That was a mistake: this is a really good movie. Incredibly believable and evocative of realist film, right down to the narrator with whom you'd sympathize if only you thought he'd be interested in sympathy. Nicholas Cage - an actor I don't generally like watching - is the perfect actor to play this role, and Jared Leto shows that he just keeps getting better... tell me again why he'd rather start a rock band that sounds like everything else on the radio...? Anyway... good movie, glad I went back to it.

- danperry17, Sunday, March 1, 2009

5 stars

"The first and most important rule of gun-running is: never get shot with your own merchandise." One man demonstrates how to get rich selling warring nations the tools of their deadly trade in this dark comedy drama. Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) is an opportunistic businessman who stumbled into a gold mine after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Huge caches of Soviet weapons became available at bargain prices (and even for free if one wasn't above stealing), and as literally billions of dollars' worth of Soviet military technology disappeared, it began finding its way into the hands of weapons dealers eager to sell it to the highest bidder. Orlov was one such dealer who found plenty of buyers for guns and military gear in unstable Third World nations, who paid cash and didn't appreciate too many questions. Orlov's exploits in the arms business quickly made him a very rich man, but they've also led to some unwanted attention from Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke), an Interpol agent who is convinced Orlov isn't playing by the rules. Inspired by a true story, Lord of War also features Jared Leto, Ian Holm, Bridget Moynahan, and Donald Sutherland. Review A film that makes you feel small and insignificant. That makes you think of your problems as trifling and of you as.. just a man, who cannot change a thing in this world. What amazed me was the fact that such films exist and still, we continue to follow the same path of destruction, wars, and self-eradication. I am sure that this theory will fill your head after the end of the movie, especially after reading the last lines. Of course, I cannot miss mentioning the brilliant play of Cage and Leto. They with no doubt contribute to the message of the film and make it painfully realistic.

- mrpopcorn, Tuesday, October 28, 2008