Lord of War (2005)
According to our protagonist and narrator (Nicholas Cage) he is brought up on the poor-side of NY city, in a suburb known as Little Odessa. He works in an Ukrainian family–run business–a modest restaurant. Caige becomes sick of the dead-end lifestyle and decides to take a big risk by selling a few guns illegally. Other than nearly losing his life, he finds that he has natural sales ability. After an unknown number of transactions of this kind, he again becomes restless. He decides to make another leap forward and begin selling wholesale quantities of arms – not just assault rifles but grenades, rocket launchers, and anything else he can get his hands onto
Yuri Orlov's (Cage) business continues to grow, and he solicits his younger brother, Vitaly Orlov, (Jared Leto) to join him as partners. Vitaly agrees. For awhile things go well for Yuri, as he rakes in cash from the illegal arms' sales.
But, he has competition in the form of Simon Weize (Ian Holm), a more experienced gun runner, who looks down his nose at Yuri as an amateur.
With all his loot Yuri is able to sweep his "dream girl," Eva Fontaine (Bridgette Moynahan) off her feet and mary her, purposely hiding his true occupation.
If anything Yuri is extremely stoical and focused. He knows who and how to pay off small-time guards as well as to individuals seated high up in the government. Cage plays the part of Yuri with deftness. On the surface it appears that Cage seems to be deadpan, unemotional, even emotionless, but a closer look shows otherwise. Most of the irony comes across through the voice-over. He is candid almost to the point of brutality -- about others and himself. He rationalizes that if he weren't selling arms, someone else would be. His mantra is "This isn't our war." Accepting this creed, Yuri is able to overlook atrocity after atrocity. Somehow this works for him. When he returns home, he is a generous and loving husband and father.
One thorn in his shoe is Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke) who is an incorruptible federal agent, making Yuri his personal obsession. Jack nabs Yuri a couple of times, but Yuri seems always one step ahead of any trouble.
A second thorn is Weize who tries to kill Yuri in a bomb explosion but who mistakenly kills his uncle, Anatoly Orlov.
Another thorn is Andre Baptiste Senior (Eamonn Walker) -- the dictator-in-chief of a third-world, African country, who has an unquenchable thirst for weapons. Even when prompted by his wife to go legit, Yuri cannot escape Andre who even comes to Yuri's penthouse suit in New York City to drag him into the business.
Once Yuri re-enters the business, he feels as if this is what he was born to do.
I cannot say any more without ruining the story.
I particularly liked the writing in this film. It's audacious, witty, and right on target. I feel confident in recommending the movie to anyone who hasn't seen it. The theme is disturbing (yet real), and by focusing on a solitary "lord of war" the film demonstrates that there is a very definite downside to having no allegiance and playing all sides.