When narrating the story about early stages of his business in 1980s, Yuri Orlov mentions that he has carried several passports at that time, including the Ukrainian passport. Ukraine didn't get to issue its own passports until 1992.
In the arms fair scene set in 1983, Yuri says that Weisz "sold" to both sides during the Iran-Iraq War. Weisz also speaks in the past tense when referring to that conflict. The actual time period of the war was 1980 to 1988, so the war was still going on in the timeframe of this scene.
During the first scene in the restaurant kitchen (set during the Carter administration), a spice jar above the stove prominently features the recognizable black-and-white "Nutrition Information" block that didn't appear on products until the early 1990s.
During Yuri's 'first break' in Beirut in 1984 the rifles he is selling are marked "AR-15A2", as can be seen during the close-up shot. US Peacekeepers had been using the M16A1, the full-auto military version of the AR-15. The Colt AR-15 is the civilian-market semi-auto version of the M16. The AR-15A2 model would not be available until 1986.
The car used by Yuri throughout the film is a Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham limousine. The particular model shown was introduced in 1993, yet Yuri has this car already in some scenes which are supposedly happening in the late '80s.
At the beginning of the movie, after the scene changes from introduction to Ava Fontaine back to Brighton Beach in the 1980s, the car wreck that we see is of a 4th generation Toyota Camry which was produced from 1997-2001.
When Jack Valentine shows Yuri Orlov a newspaper (dated May 23rd, 2001) in an interrogation room, an article about a death of an alleged pro-communist activist and following events in Korea appears on the left column of the paper. Though the events that referred to in the article are actual events, they happened in 1987, which is fourteen years before the date on the newspaper.
When INTERPOL has Yuri and his uncle at gunpoint, asking for his papers, Jack Valentine asks whether the ship they met on before was named the Kono or the Kristol. Right after Yuri replies with a smart comeback, the INTERPOL agent to the left-hand side of Yuri supposedly cocks his gun telling him to "answer the question". The INTERPOL agent who supposedly cocks his gun has his right hand holding the gun, and clearly has his left hand on Yuri's shoulder while the gun is cocked. None of his hands could have cocked the gun.
Yuri's voice over claims the "U.S. Army" got a cut of his sale in Lebanon in the form of Lieutenant Colonel Southern, but the officer was wearing a Marine Corps uniform and wearing Colonel (not Lieutenant Colonel) rank. Lieutenant Colonel rank, whether Army or Marine, would be represented with a silver oak leaf, not an eagle. Additionally, this Marine Colonel is wearing the cap of a General but the Emblem of an Enlisted Marine, which makes the rank and service of his entire uniform incorrect.
When Yuri and Uncle Dimitri discuss the arms stockpile Yuri mentions that it's "dangerously depleted for a battalion" with "only" 10,000 assault rifles. However, the average infantry battalion has about 500 riflemen, so 10,000 rifles is a ridiculous amount. Also, as a Major-General, Uncle Dimitri would not be in charge of a battalion, but of a division (in which case a stockpile of 10,000 rifles would make considerably more sense).
During the 1983 arms fair, Orlov claims the Simeon Weisz sold the Exocet missiles used in the Falklands war. Those particular Exocet missiles (French made air-ship weapons used by the Argentinean Armada against the Royal Navy) were directly brought by Argentinean president Leopoldo Galtieri from the French government. In fact, this resulted in an unpleasant reunion involving French president François Mitterrand and the British government under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during the peak of hostilities. No arms dealers were involved, but it is possible that for film reasons movie makers made it so.
Yuri's uncle Dmitri Orlov is introduced as a Major General and wears two stars on his shoulder boards. Although two stars means a Major General in the US military, in the Soviet/Russian Federation Army two large stars means a Lieutenant General, which is a higher rank than Major General.
During one of Yuri's narrations, he says that the AK-47 assault rifle is made of "forged steel and plywood." While some versions of the AK-47 do have laminated wood stocks and handguards, it is incorrect to refer to that material as "plywood."
When Ava confronts Yuri about his real occupation, she is seen naked from behind. She then slips on a bathrobe. Shortly afterward she is seen kneeling in front of Yuri while he is sitting on a sofa, and it appears that she is wearing underwear (bra and panties) beneath the robe.
When Ava Fontaine enters the container used for Yuri Orlov's gun running business the first section of guns are as follows "Top AK-47", "Bottom M-16 or AR-15" but when the camera shows Ava's perspective they are "Top M-16 or AR-15", "Bottom M-16 or AR-15" and then back to the "Top AK-47", "Bottom M-16 or AR-15" when the camera pulls away form her perspective.
After finishing the painting of "Kono" and while they are bringing the painter back up aboard, we see all four letters filled out nicely and without smudges. However, in a short cut the N in Kono is smudged, and then back to normal in the very next cut.
When Yuri is in his apartment looking down out the window, you can see the Interpol truck is almost completely in the sun. In the next shot, when you see Jack stepping out of the truck, the entire truck is in the shade.
After Yuri's plane is forced to land in Sierra Leone, there is a scene in which a machete is held to his throat while he is being threatened by INTERPOL agents. The position of the blade against his neck moves back and forth between shots.
In the opening kitchen scene with Vitaly, there is a vodka bottle up on the shelf. When the camera closes in on Vitaly's face the label is pointed to the left. They cut to Yuri and then back to Vitaly. When they do, the label is turned to the rear.
In the scene where Yuri, Vitaly, and Andre's son are traveling to Sierra Leone, Jared Leto's tattoo representing his band '30 Seconds To Mars' is clearly visible on his right arm. In no other scenes is this tattoo visible.
While en route to Sierra Leone from Liberia, Yuri and company travel though a dry and desolate desert. However, both Liberia and Sierra Leone are in a tropical climate zone, and do not have any deserts such as the one shown. They would most likely be traveling through savanna or rain forests between the two countries.
When Yuri telephones home from the Ukraine, he wakes up his wife in the middle of the night (say 11:00pm-5:00am, total darkness). That would be daytime where he is (about 1:00pm-7:00pm), but the movie shows a night scene.
At the end of the film it is said that "The world's biggest arms suppliers are the U.S., U.K., Russia, France and China." This is incorrect. According to information from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the five biggest arms exporters in 2005 were, in descending order: USA, Russia, Germany, France and U.K., while China is the 11th.
In his monologue about the AK-47, Yuri proclaims that the gun was on Soviet coins and on Mozambique's flag. While several African nations have put the AK-47 on their flag and/or coat of arms (including Mozambique), the AK-47 was never featured on Soviet currency.
The Soviet troops under General Orlov (Yuri's uncle) all carry Norinco Type-56 assault rifles, a Chinese-made copy of the AK-47 that is distinguished by its smooth receiver cover and hooded front sight. It would be inaccurate for Russian soldiers to use Chinese-made AKs, and furthermore, the 7.62-mm AK variants had long been phased out of Soviet service at the time in which the scene takes place (early-1990s). The Russian troops would actually be armed with 5.45-mm AK-74s.
During Yuri's narration upon entering the hotel in Liberia he says, "In the most AIDS infested region of the globe, where one in four is infected ..." This is untrue for West Africa and particular for Liberia where since the identification of HIV, the prevalence rate has never reached 2%. In fact, in 1995, when Yuri is in Liberia, only 23 people in the entire country had tested positive for the virus. Even if the regional reference was meant to indicate the entire Sub-Saharan Africa region, the "one in four" statistic is still grossly overestimated as these high rates only exist in a few Southern Africa countries.
In order to camouflage his gun-running freighter, M/V "Kristol", Orlov has the name repainted as "Kono". However, this only happens on the stern. A vessel also has its name shown on both the starboard and port side of the bow, so the agents bringing up the vessel would still have identified the ship correctly. Furthermore, the stern of a ship also sports the home port, which also would have had to be changed for the "flag-change" ruse to work, but is nowhere to be seen in the movie.
In the opening scene, the cartridges being manufactured are shown packed loose into wooden crates, which is incorrect. In reality, the cartridges would be sorted, bundled into paper packets or cardboard cartons, sealed into large rectangular sheet-metal "spam cans", and finally packaged in a wooden crate. (Each crate contains two "spam cans" and a long sheet-metal can opener).
As Orlov's cargo plane is being intercepted over Sierra Leone,
it is repeatedly referred to as "Charlie Echo India," supposedly the phonetic call letters for an aircraft with the registration CEI. However, the registration on the side of the cargo plane clearly has the last three letters CIH, which would be referred to as "Charlie India Hotel" in the alphabet.
Interpol has no arrest authority in the US, but then again they have no arrest authority in most parts of the world. Interpol acts as an intergovernmental organization facilitating international police cooperation.
When Yuri sells Glock handguns to the drug dealer, two of the Glocks are 3rd generation models not sold until 2000. The Glock 3rd generations were not sold in 1980. The other two Glocks are 2nd generation models that fit the era. You can tell the difference between them because the 3rd generation Glocks have accessory rails, finger grooves in the grip and a thumb groove. 2nd generations have flat handles, no thumb groove and a slanted front nose.
About 56 minutes into the movie two men are seen in Liberia carrying AK-47s. They also wear lengths of belted ammo. AKs require an adapters to fire belted ammo which are not shown. The AKs being carried have magazines in place. The ammo worn is too long to be 7.62x39 conventional AK ammo and is more likely to be 7.62x54r ammo.
In the opening scene the label on the ammunition crate lists the quantity of cartridges as 1588 cartridges. Standard Soviet and ComBloc ammo crates of 7.62x39mm Soviet ammunition usually hold 1280 rounds [in 10-round stripper clips in 20-round wrappers (640 rounds / 32 wrappers per can)], 1440 rounds [in 30-round packets (720 rounds / 24 packets per can)], or 1400 rounds [in 20-round cartons (700 rounds / 35 cartons per can)]).
In Yuri's voice over at about 14 minutes he states that the U.S. doesn't take their munitions when leaving a war zone, when in fact each service member returns with their own individually issued weapon, and all serviceable ammunition is returned for inspection and re-issue (i.e. 3 ships full of ammunition were returned from Operation Desert Storm).
Valentine responds with skepticism to Orlov's claim of being in Sierra Leone "on safari", holding up a 7.62x39mm round and asking "are you hunting wildebeest with a submachine gun?" to emphasize his point. Submachine guns by definition are designed to fire pistol cartridges, which the 7.62x39mm, an intermediate rifle cartridge, is not. It is, in fact, a very popular round for hunting (although it would indeed be a rather poor choice for big game such as wildebeest).
In the scene where Jack Valentine enters the port, the name on the entrance "Port Odessa" (in Russian) is backwards so that it can only be read from the inside of the port not from the outside correctly.
At about 1:35 the container that Ava Fontaine stands in front of is obviously not locked but merely has the doors pushed together, as seen clearly when compared to the containers to either side whose doors are closed/locked and flush with the front of the box.
A Liberian guard wears a beret with an emblem of two crossed swords on oak leaves. This is a German emblem. However it is not uncommon for soldiers in West African armies to not be issued official fatigues or uniforms. Instead they often will wear second hand clothing that they find in the local markets. It is possible that the soldier bought the old German army beret.
In the Beirut scene, Vitaly draws a Beretta 92SB pistol. The 92SB was equipped with a hollow guide rod, so while it may appear to be missing the guide rod, it is there and the pistol would fire normally.
Aboard the Kristol, Yuri narrates about how AK-47's were code-named Angel Kings. He then speaks on the phone saying "The Angel Kings will arrive tomorrow." Later, just after Jack Valentine has left the ship, some potatoes fall to reveal a crate labeled M-16, which would suggest the contents of the crate are M-16 rifles and not AK-47's, however, there were at least 2 other shipping containers on the freighter. Yuri obviously stored the AK-47's in the others.
In the opening scene the label on the cartridges crate is full of goofs. It says "Odessa, Ukraine", while there have never been any kind of firearms plants in Odessa, Ukraine. It says "quantity 1588", but the crate is apparently not big enough to hold 1588 cartridges. Even the crate itself is a goof - AK cartridges (and most other ammo) are shipped in metal boxes.
Both times Yuri takes Vitaly to rehab, the exact same close-up shot of Yuri's hand pouring cocaine out of a vial onto the arm rest of their limo is used. It is colored differently the second time it is used, but it is still the exact same shot.
The goof items below may give away important plot points.
When Vitaly throws the grenade into the back of the first truck, he quite obviously makes it about halfway between the two vehicles. However, by the time the truck explodes, he is only about a quarter of the distance.
When Jack and Yuri are sitting down for a talk after Yuri gives all his guns away to the Sierra Leone locals, the sunlight shining on Jack is inconsistent between shots. When the camera is facing Jack, you can see sunlight shining through his right ear and onto the right side of his face, but when the camera is facing Yuri, the right side of Jack's face is not exposed to the sun.