The Biden administration wanted the Russians to release WNBA star Brittney Griner so badly that it agreed to hand over Viktor Bout — an incarcerated arms dealer notorious enough that he was known as the “Merchant of Death” and who was finally caught back in 2008, after trying to sell weapons with the aim of shooting down US passenger jets. Backed by Putin, the life of the dealer who even sold arms at one point to Al-Qaeda was also part of the basis of the 2005 Nicholas Cage movie Lord of War (available on HBO Max).

For whatever reason, this is the guy the White House on Thursday formally handed over in a controversial, high-level swap for Griner — a US athlete jailed in Russia since February on drug charges.

Lord of War on HBO Max

The exchanged detainees, it should go without saying, could not have been jailed for more different crimes. Griner was arrested after she was found to be in possession of a gram of cannabis oil. Bout is regarded as the most prolific and dangerous global arms dealer in decades — a man who armed the Taliban and who was convicted in US court of scheming to kill Americans.

One of the things that makes the Lord of War aspect of this whole lamentable affair so extraordinary is the movie’s ending. If you’ve seen it, I’m referring to the monologue by Yuri Orlov (Cage) in which he explains in a near-whisper, with almost weary certainty, why “in the end, I will be released.” In short: Today, events played out exactly as Cage’s Viktor-like character said they would in Lord of War:

“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. Some of those men are the enemies of your enemies … You call me evil. But unfortunately, for you, I’m a necessary evil.”

‘An intelligent examination of the gun trade’

Orlov, the fictional arms dealer at the center of Lord of War, is the son of a family of Ukrainian refugees. The Rotten Tomatoes critics’ consensus has described the movie as “an intelligent examination of the gun trade.” And in addition to the ending cited above, there’s also a terse assertion at the end about how the biggest arms producers in the world also happen to be members of the UN Security Council.

lord of war, on hbo max, was based on the life of the arms dealer swapped for brittney griner

WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis. Image source: EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The fact that Biden officials agreed to trade the “Lord of War” himself for Griner, meanwhile, is just one of the reasons the swap is so controversial.

At one point, for example, not long after Griner had been imprisoned, her supporters bitterly lamented that if it was Lebron James in a Russian jail instead of Griner, the US would have already secured his release. Now, though, the fate of other US nationals still detained in Russia — like Marc Fogel, who was arrested for possessing medical marijuana that he had a prescription for — stands in contrast to that of Griner, who had celebrity status on her side.

TECH NEWS RELATED

Super Bowl 2023 live stream: how to watch the game, commercials and halftime show from anywhere

(Image: © Getty Images / Christian Petersen) It’s nearly Super Bowl time; time to figure out how to watch a Super Bowl 2023 live stream. The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs were Super Bowl favorites at the start of the season, and as long as they remain in ...

View more: Super Bowl 2023 live stream: how to watch the game, commercials and halftime show from anywhere

6 other zombie shows and movies to watch if you’re loving The Last of Us

HBO has done it once again, delivering via the apocalyptic The Last of Us yet another prestige drama that’s become the network’s newest must-watch series — one about which both critics and fans have not stopped raving since its debut this past weekend. Ahead of episode two of the ...

View more: 6 other zombie shows and movies to watch if you’re loving The Last of Us

Anker’s New Monitor Stand Doubles as an All-In-One Docking Station

Anker The average USB docking station is just an ugly gray box. So, for those who want something a bit more flashy, Anker is launching the 675 12-in-1 USB Docking Station, which doubles as a monitor stand. It’s an impressive-looking product, and it offers plenty of ports for all ...

View more: Anker’s New Monitor Stand Doubles as an All-In-One Docking Station

M2 Pro and M2 Max benchmark results show a 30% faster GPU

Geekbench scores already showed how faster the M2 Pro processor is compared to the M1 Max chip in CPU performance. Now, new tests spotted by MacRumors highlight the graphic performance of the M2 Pro and M2 Max are about 30% faster than their predecessors. These tests align with what ...

View more: M2 Pro and M2 Max benchmark results show a 30% faster GPU

Invincible season 2 trailer is the perfect birthday gift for Mark Grayson

TikTok EU ban on the table if social network doesn’t comply with new laws

TikTok is one of the most popular social networks out there. But TikTok is also a cause of concern for western governments that worry about the company’s ties to the Chinese government. TikTok can’t run on most devices the US government issues, and there has been talk of a ...

View more: TikTok EU ban on the table if social network doesn’t comply with new laws

Don’t Buy a Foldable Until Samsung Brings This Prototype to Life

Samsung Display via The Verge The world of foldable phones is surprisingly stagnant. The Galaxy Z Fold gets a tiny little upgrade every year, and rival phone brands loosely copy Samsung’s homework. But a new Samsung Display prototype called the “Flex In & Out” could turn this narrative on ...

View more: Don’t Buy a Foldable Until Samsung Brings This Prototype to Life

Best free sports streaming apps in 2023

Cutting the cord on cable television is something tons of people have done over the past five years. But that hasn’t proven to be the smartest way to continue to watch sports. Whether it comes from premium sports website subscriptions to keep tabs on your favorite players, or even fantasy ...

View more: Best free sports streaming apps in 2023

Avengers 5 might have Ant-Man in it, Quantumania star teases

Bournemouth vs Nottingham Forest live stream: how to watch any Premier League game

Southampton vs Aston Villa live stream: how to watch Premier League online from anywhere

West Ham vs Everton live stream: how to watch Premier League online from anywhere

Sharing a Netflix Account? Get Ready to Pay For It

‘7 Wonders’ Board Game Gets a New ‘Edifice’ Expansion

T-Mobile Kicks Off 2023 With Another Data Breach

Apple appeals to UK competition watchdog investigation about mobile browser dominance

Galaxy S23 Ultra release date and specs leak finally reveals everything about the new model

7 new movies and TV shows on Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max and more this weekend (January 20)

WhatsApp for iOS rolling out the ability to create a chat with yourself

Amazon Prime Music Unlimited changes streaming prices, now matches Apple Music

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News