In this cynical satire, Cage plays the arms dealer Yuri Orlov – a monster who becomes a tragic hero through the performance. Our film tip
Thousands and thousands of empty cartridge cases lie on the floor, the camera pans just above the floor until it comes to a stop on a man in a black suit and winds up: It’s Nicolas Cage as arms dealer Yuri Orlov, smoking and casual. He ponders in the face of the viewer that every twelfth person in the world has a firearm. Which puts him before the question: How do you arm the remaining 11?
Andrew Niccol’s cynical-satirical story of the Ukrainian upstart, the greatest gunrunner the 80s and 90s soars. He has no moral concerns; his justification for this job: “I can do it well.” From Lebanon to Liberia to Sierra Leone, from post-turnaround Ukraine to Colombia – in the businessman’s success story, one scene follows the next, one bon mot after another, smoothly and precise, and with cruel logic – like bullets in a Kalashnikov’s magazine.
Cage brilliantly lends this monstrous man of semi-automatic death a gentleness in the justifying sentences that are so smooth and lick that one is tempted to believe him. His relationship with an Interpol agent (Ethan Hawke), who always chases after him, but always comes too late, is almost affectionate. Yuri throws his son’s toy gun in the trash, and delivers to planned refugee massacres without the blink of an eye, also because empathy would be a shot in the neck in his business. Yuri is the tragic hero, and to believe Niccol is an admirable achievement. Osama bin Laden, says Yuri in one of the brightest moments in the film, incidentally never delivered. “Not for moral reasons – but his checks always failed.”
August 20, 2021 // Volker Sievert