Metascore
62

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 31
  2. Negative: 1 out of 31
Watch On
  1. 88
    A bleak comedy, funny in a "Catch-22" sort of way, and at the same time an angry outcry against the gun traffic.
  2. 88
    The film's tone is set by a bravura opening sequence that follows a single bullet from a factory conveyer belt to its resting place in a child's skull, and by Cage's flawlessly sardonic voice-over.
  3. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    80
    Brimming with cinematic confidence, cynicism, chutzpah plus dramatic bungles, Andrew Niccol's ambitious Lord of War views today's international arms trade through its anti-hero.
  4. 80
    Tells Yuri's story with the same bravado and stylishness as Scorsese at his finest, with bigger-than-life characters and situations splashing across the screen in breathtaking scale.
  5. 80
    Lord of War skims along like a dance routine. Political morality doesn't usually get such fleet choreography in the movies.
  6. 80
    An arresting and disturbing piece of work that gets its message across without coming off as overly preachy.
  7. 80
    A raffishly ironic and insinuating movie--and probably the most sheerly enjoyable film of the year so far.
  8. But the movie soars as docudrama. Niccol's model seems to have been Scorsese's "GoodFellas" and, like that film, the blitzkrieg of images and rapid-fire narration takes us on a breathtaking inside tour of a scary world. It's an extraordinary expose.
  9. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    75
    Picture how insufferable "GoodFellas" would be if it climaxed with a federal agent making a speech about the victims claimed by organized crime.
  10. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    75
    Lord of War is advocacy entertainment -- an act of mainstream provocation -- and, for the most part, it works unusually well.
  11. A bravura, resonant performance by Nicolas Cage, combined with some hard questions raised about American responsibility for the worldwide glut of firearms, make the film close to a must-see, if not a must-love.
  12. 70
    Lord Of War charges bravely and relentlessly into volatile territory, and it's hard to leave unscarred by the experience.
  13. It's this moralizing, this slamming down of a stop sign every time the movie wants to rev its engines, that keeps Lord of War from being great. But it's three-fourths of a great movie, if nothing else, it has more brains and balls than most studio releases, for which it's to be commended and recommended.
  14. A caustic satire masquerading as an action-adventure. Or maybe it's Hollywood escapism masquerading as satire.
  15. Taken as a whole -- and it kills me to write this -- it just doesn't add up to much.
  16. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    63
    Both script and performance, however, waver between black comedy and more routine international-thriller concerns.
  17. A black comedy, a character study, and a thriller, Lord of War lacks the gritty, hell-bent hilarity of David O. Russell's contemporary war pic, "Three Kings."
  18. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    63
    Intelligent but not particularly involving.
  19. Niccol doesn't always get the mix right, and the tone here is inconsistent. But the movie remains compelling, largely because of Cage's dry, deadpan delivery.
  20. 63
    Niccol is too good a screenwriter (The Truman Show, Gattaca) not to know that Hollywood cliches are hell on a film's political bite. They muzzle it.
  21. 60
    Niccol's fatal error is in making the protagonist at once amoral and insipid, an admixture thickened by Cage's loquacious yet stoned voice-over and Moynahan's moist-eyed tremblings as the trophy wife.
  22. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    60
    It would like to be "Traffic" with guns, but comes out more like "Blow" with bullets.
  23. Reviewed by: Tim Grierson
    50
    Incorporating surrealist humor and an ironic patina, Lord of War tries for irreverent satire, but the film (and especially Cage) is too muted and distant.
  24. Any time you're watching a film in which the statistics in the voice-over have more intrinsic drama than the protagonists' lives, you know you're in trouble.
  25. Like everything else in this film, Mr. Cage's performance is watchable if never credible because his director never resolves the disconnect between this star's function (to entertain) and that of his character (to repel).
  26. The movie is a strange amalgam of compelling visuals and fascinating vocational details forged with deep moral ambivalence and often hollow didacticism.
  27. The film is always at least mildly interesting, because international arms dealing is a fairly compelling issue, but it's never as informative as a good documentary nor as engrossing as a good narrative. It's a hybrid that's frustrating in two distinct ways.
  28. Of course, given the abundance of voice-over, Nic Cage is unburdened from any great need to act. But he narrates splendidly, delivering the stuff with an unrepentant glee laced with liberal doses of irony.
  29. Reviewed by: Ryan Devlin
    50
    The film falters in the moments where it can't decide if it's an entertainment about a likable criminal, or a serious commentary on the exploitation of the Third World.
  30. The result is a dead pile of information in search of a movie.
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 203 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 58
  2. Negative: 14 out of 58
  1. Sep 12, 2014
    9
    A movie that definitely makes you think.

    The only pretty things you'll be seeing here are the lies spread to block the view to the truth.
    A movie that definitely makes you think.

    The only pretty things you'll be seeing here are the lies spread to block the view to the truth. The only consolation may be that Yuri finds some of his conscience in the end - even if the cost is incredibly high.

    The story narrative is littered with irony, sarcasm and dry humor. The story begins from the end, then goes back to the beginning, and from there it unfolds with ruthlessness that cannot be compared with anything else but reality itself.
    Full Review »
  2. Aug 11, 2014
    10
    Lord of War is a strong, potent film that (besides adding accurate commentary on gun trading), has many alternative themes about life. ItLord of War is a strong, potent film that (besides adding accurate commentary on gun trading), has many alternative themes about life. It reminds us that sometimes, having everything you want is a bad thing, and that being at war with yourself is far worse than any global conflict. It is well-acted, well-scripted, and never boring. It is a rare 21st century Nick Cage movie that is actually good. Full Review »
  3. Jun 6, 2011
    9
    Arguably one of Cage's best roles, and Hawke does pretty darn good to! This film begins with one of the most entertaining openings I've everArguably one of Cage's best roles, and Hawke does pretty darn good to! This film begins with one of the most entertaining openings I've ever seen. The characters mean something to you backed by an ironclad story and top rate performances. We are given another perspective of war.....the business side, and the result is shockingly entertaining! Full Review »