I’m usually not one to want to watch war movies, but I was drawn to this 2003 DVD because of Jared Leto: I wanted to see what he was like ten years before he won an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, which I enjoyed.
The movie opens with machine gunfire, empty casings and a back view of Nicholas Cage before the opening credits. The music in the background is an upbeat one, which portends excitement to come.
Yuri Orlov (Cage) starts a new life in New York in 1982 with his parents and brother Vitaly (Jared Leto). Yuri has always wanted to do something big with his life but just didn’t know what, until he discovers his natural instinct in smuggling contraband and ropes in his brother to help. He reaches the top of the illegal trade but his brother also succumbs to drugs and has to go into rehab a couple of times. They ran from violence their whole life but now run towards it. Is this the nature of human beings? In life, it seems, evil prevails.
I am impressed by Jared Leto’s fine acting, and wonder how long it took Nicholas Cage to learn to speak his two-line-dialogue in Mandarin. I also liked that the music that accompanies each scene is well thought out; for eg, La Vie En Rose in a scene between Yuri and his dream girl (Ava Fontaine, played by Bridget Moynahan, who would become his wife), A Kiss To Build A Dream On (the Louis Armstrong version) in a romantic scene, It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year in a family scene at Christmas, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in a scene where Ava and her young son discovers Yuri’s secret, and music by David Bowie and A.R.Rahman and music that reflect the different cultures and languages of the countries where the transactions take place.