A lot of people enjoy claiming that a movie ripped off their lifestory. Tom Byron and Peter North smile if you ask them if they were the real subject of Boogie Nights. Others have issues with quasi-biopics. William Randolph Hearst was never a fan of Citizen Kane. Add VIktor Bout to that list of unhappy quasi-subjectst. Who is he? He was supposedly the inspiration for Nic Cage’s gun running character in Lord of War. He was internationally nicknamed “The Merchant of Death.” His Hollywood representation made things extremely tough on the Russian who was supposedly camera shy. The Notorious Mr. Bout is illustrated with tons of home video that shine a different light on the portrait international authorities painted of him.
Bout ran an a cargo airline service in the early 1990s. His planes mostly bounced around Africa and the Middle East. He didn’t seem to care who was hiring and what they expected him to haul. He was out to make business since running airlines is a risky industry. He hauled various things for the United Nations and the United States to various hot spots. But he also worked for other leaders during civil wars. Filmmakers Tony Gerber and Maxim Pozdorovkin get beneath issue of gun running. Seems that other countries were shipping guns to these various places. Was Bout made a villain in the United Nations because his way of delivering weapons required only cash and no allegiances to a super power? The use of home videos show that Bout wasn’t this intense Russian character as portrayed by Nic Cage. He’s a bit of a goofball who seemed more enchanted with getting to run his own fleet of planes instead of manipulating battlefields. His lighter moments are captured as he flies around the globe and hangs out with his family. He was not a man of mystery. Is he really the face of evil or his he just the face that other countries want to be evil so their actions can be overlooked? The documentary investigates his bust by the DEA in Thailand when he was lured out of retirement. He’s a far cry from Nic Cage.
The Notorious Mr. Bout is now available on various streaming services and digital downloads including Amazon. The documentary is very incisive as it questions what did Bout really do so wrong. Here’s my interview with director Tony Gerber at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, N.C.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The video varies depending what kind of camera Bout was using for his home movies. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo although most is subtitled Russian.
No bonus features.
Bond/360 presents The Notorious Mr. Bout. Starring: Viktor Bout. Running Time: 89 minutes. Released: November 3, 2015
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.