Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link]

PEOPLE: Written and directed by Andrew Niccol (who wrote The Truman Show and directed & wrote Gattaca). With Nicolas Cage, Jared Leto (Requiem For A Dream, My So-Called Life, Panic Room, American Psycho, “Angel Face” from Fight Club, Urban Legend), Bridget Moynahan (I, Robot, The Sum Of All Fears, Coyote Ugly), Ethan Hawke (Gattaca, Alive, Dead Poets Society), Ian Holm (Brazil, The Day After Tomorrow, From Hell, Lord Of The Rings Trilogy [as Bilbo], eXistenZ, The Fifth Element, Naked Lunch, Alien).

QUIRKS: Based on true events; Yuri Orlov is a composite of 5 real arms dealers, Andre Baptiste is loosely based on Charles Taylor.

VISUALS: Definitely a well-directed movie. Good visual style and camerawork.

MORALS: The movie itself is a big moral dilemma. Is selling arms to people who want them bad? Is selling drugs to people who want them bad? Is RFK stadium bad for selling beer to its game attendees, when that is what they want? The fact of the matter is: Guns aren’t any more inherently evil than a hammer or a knife… They’re just more efficient. And prohibitions don’t work. We haven’t stopped gun running, and we shall never get rid of guns any more than we can get rid of drugs (which are in every *prison*… We can’t even keep drugs out of the prisons where we send drug users!)

In the end, people are going to do what they want. Do you penalize the people who helped them get there, or do you place full responsibility on the person actually doing the crime?

In this movie, Nicholas Cage walked a morally questionable ground… But if he hadn’t dealt those arms, there is exactly a 100% chance that someone else would do it instead. Putting a drug dealer in jails doesn’t stop drugs any more than putting arms dealers in jail does.

When you start dealing with bad people, and giving guns only to bad people — Then you begin to start to cross a line. But again, they would get those guns (or drugs) (or beer–let’s not forget alcohol prohibition) anyway. Is it inherently bad to profit off of other peoples’ evil, if they are going to be evil anyway?

I suppose he could have given his money to charity or something. But I don’t really give to charity either, so I guess I’m just as bad? Hmm. This movie definitely brings out some moral dilemmas.

POLITICS: There’s a lot of implied politics in this movie. That we spend money fighting gunrunners while producing the largest military and the most weapons of any nation is definitely something to think about.

BAD STUFF: I’ve seen this movie before. It was called Blow, and was about cocaine instead of guns. And before that, it was called Scarface. I tend to not get so excited from “chase the money/power” type movies, especially ones where the main character loses everyone he knows and loves / is disowned by his family / his family are killed. It seems like they are trying to punish the main character for doing what he did.

In Blow especially, I thought the guy didn’t deserve to be treated like that.. And his daughter was kind of a bitch for never visiting him in prison. Guns definitely have more of a potential for misuse than cocaine, but still. He was basically being punished for being a good businessmen, because people don’t like his product. I am a bit tired of main characters always being punished whenever they do anything questionable. Apparently only the governments of the world are allowed to say who owns a gun.

Guns will do a lot more evil when only governments decide who holds them. Hitler, Mao Tse Tsung, and Mussolini agree–they were all pro gun-control. Dictators everywhere prefer an unarmed populace. Even in a democratic nation, legislators will go farther in a country without an unarmed populace, simply because they don’t fear them as much. Gun ownership is the ultimate check and balance.

At times, this movie tried to act profound when it wasn’t quite being as profound as it thought it was. See movie quote (below). It’s a good quote, but I found his opening and closing soliloquies to be slightly pretentious. I didn’t find the subject matter to be as deeply philosophical as they made it — but maybe that’s my own shortcoming.

CONCLUSION: Despite rave reviews from several friends, I found it too similar to movies I’ve seen to be considered a super-unique. I found it to be an above-par movie in a category I’m not super enthusiastic about (“chase the power and get hoisted on your own petard”). I only “liked” this, I didn’t “really like” this (though it was close), so I gave it 3/5 stars on Netflix. But the directing style was good, it was interesting, it entertained, and it held our interest, so it did get an IMDB rating of 7/10. If I could rate decimals, perhaps I’d give it 3.5/5 stars and 7.5/10.

RECOMMENDATION: If you like chase the money/power type movies, this is a good one. I still liked Blow better, I *think*. It’s been awhile, so I can’t say for sure. I did like this better than Scarface, which I found a bit dated.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Blow. Scarface.

MOVIE QUOTE: “You know who’s going to inherit the Earth? Arms dealers. Because everyone else is too busy killing each other. That’s the secret to survival. Never go to war. Especially with yourself.”

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Brent I & Jordan really liked it. Ian, Benj, and Metinee liked it. (more…)