I have a soft spot in my heart for Lord of War, one of those movies I think people always assume Nic Cage took for the paycheck, but where I think he’s actually quite good playing an arms dealer based on the life of Viktor Bout. At the movie’s end, sold out by his family and in the custody of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Cage’s character tells Ethan Hawke’s federal agent that there’s no way he’s going to jail:
Let me tell you what’s going to happen. This way, you can prepare yourself. Soon there’s going to be a knock at that door and you will be called outside. In the hall there will be a man who outranks you. First, he’ll compliment you on the fine job you’ve done, making the world safer place, that you’re to receive a commendation and promotion. And then he’s going to tell you that I am to be released. You’re going to protest. You’ll probably threaten to resign. But in the end, I will be released. The reason I’ll be released is the same reason you think I’ll be convicted. I do rub shoulders with some of the most vile, sadistic men calling themselves leaders today. But some of those men are the enemies are your enemies. And while the biggest arms dealer int he world is your boss, the president of the United States, who ships more merchandise in a day than I do in a year, sometimes it’s embarrassing to have his fingerprints on the guns…Unfortunately for you, I’m a necessary evil.
So it’s nice to see that cynical worldview hasn’t prevailed and Bout’s been convicted and may be spending the rest of his life in prison. The movie’s worth a look, though, both for its dark humor and a couple of deeply weird, beautifully shot sequences. Although I always feel sort of mixed by the tendency to shoot scenes set in Africa in super-saturated color. I can never tell if I feel like it’s a way to exoticize the continent and make it seem overwhelming rather than familiar.