Based on actual events, this thriller stars Nicholas Cage as international arms smuggler Uri Orlov.
The story follows Uri from his humble beginnings as a Soviet immigrant in 1970s Brooklyn and peaks with his involvement in selling off the stockpiled arsenal of post-Cold War Ukraine to--among other top clients--the sadistic African dictator André Baptiste, Sr. (Eamonn Walker).
Jared Leto costars as Uri's little brother Vitaly, whose conscience and a burgeoning cocaine problem get in the way of business. Ethan Hawke is good as a sanctimonious Interpol agent with a vendetta against Uri, but the film's biggest dose of onscreen gravitas comes from Walker, whose Baptiste seethes with a heavy, serpent-like malevolence.
Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, the film makes fine use of the brisk stream-of-consciousness narration style that Martin Scorcese brought to the true crime genre with GOODFELLAS (1992), and a near constant flow of action and classic rock songs that ensure a speedy, riveting ride through three decades of global carnage.
Cage, who coproduced, lets his patented oddball magnetism slowly change polarity, until viewers realize they've been led into a moral quagmire by falling for his self-delusory spiels about supply and demand, making this one of the bravest thrillers of its decade.