There’s a chance the Brittney Griner detainment story may be coming to a close. On Wednesday, CNN reported that the United States has signed off on a deal with Russia to bring Griner — as well as Paul Whelan, who’s been in their custody since 2018 — home. The plan, should it go through, is to swap both of them for one Russian prisoner: arms trafficker Viktor Bout, who’s been serving a 25-year sentence since 2012 in an Illinois prison. Strangely enough, this is where a semi-obscure Nicolas Cage movie comes in.
As noted by Entertainment Weekly, three years before Bout was arrested in Thailand, and later extradited to America and convicted on three counts, Bout served as the inspiration for Lord of War, a 2005 drama from The Truman Show writer Andrew Niccol. Cage played Yuri Olov, a self-hating arms dealer inspired by Bout. The movie ends with him detained by an Interpol agent (played by Ethan Hawke), only to [spoiler] be released thanks to his connections. Again, this movie was made a few years before Bout was rounded up and eventually thrown in jail.
Now Bout may be released so as to save the lives of two Americans seen by the U.S. government as being “wrongfully detained.” Griner has been in custody since February, after she was arrested for possession of hashish oil cartridges while flying into Moscow. The WNBA star pleaded guilty to the charges, though she told authorities she brought the offending items accidentally. The deal has yet to go through, but whatever happens, this is yet another strange twist in the strange life of one of America’s strangest (and greatest) actors.