Nicholas Cage is Yuri Orlov. Yuri Orlov is a gun-runner. A poor russian immigrant who decides to do something with his life and he seeks success in the gun-running business. He tells us his life-story, from the beginning sales of a single UZI machine gun to the sales of several thousand AK-47s to the warlords of Africa.
The acting is good, supporting roles of the law-abbiding Interpol agent Ethan Hawke and Yuri`s borthers, potrayed by Jared Leto. The story takes us from the beginning of the cold war to the present days of conflicts in Africa. It tells a story about the current system and tries to find reason in a world of chaos.
Tragedy mixed with comedy (quotes like “AK-47 was the russia top export. Second came vodka, kaviar and suicidal novelists” are not uncommon) and the movie does not take sides. It just monitors the circle of life (circle of death would be more appropriate) and lets the viewer decide.
The main character seems soul-less. He has no problem killing a man to make a deal and he has no problems selling guns for both sides of the conflict. He is a business man. His goal is to make as much money as possible. He knows that he is just a microscopic cog in a catastrophic plan and has no problems with that. During a movie he says “The arms-dealers will inherit the earth. Because everybody else is too busy killing each other“.
But on the other hand he as a family. A wife, son and a brother. And it`s the family that eventually does him in. Wife, an orphan whose parents were gunned down in the street cannot carry the burden anymore and goes to the Interpol. His brother gets killed in the middle of a business trade and when he is taken home, a bullet, lodged in-between his ribs sets the whole thing off. Nevertheless, Yuri does not go to jail. The machine needs him. It needs his trade. And so it turns. Till the end of time.