War Dogs is based on the true story of two young, in-over-their-heads war profiteers fraudulently milking the military-industrial complex teat in the middle of the Iraq War. They are entrepreneurs in Dick Cheney’s deified image looking to make money off of war-spending scraps.
Jonah Hill is his classic Jonah Hill-style asshole as Efraim Diveroli, who recruits childhood friend David Packouz (Miles Teller) to help him scour the Pentagon’s online, public offering of military contracts. The two end up unintentionally driving through Anbar Province, Iraq, to personally deliver a shipment of Beretta pistols when Italy establishes an embargo on goods destined for Iraq.
The profiteering goes against David’s morals, and the lies he tells to his wife Iz (Ana de Armas) about what he is really doing takes a toll on his marriage, but the money is too good to pass up. When Iz discovers that she is pregnant, Packouz decides he’s all in—for the baby.
The duo build an actual company just as the US decides to outfit the entire Afghan national army, and they snag an epically big government contract after meeting an international arms dealer (Bradley Cooper) who has connections to massive ammunition stockpiles in Albania, but is currently blacklisted from personally doing business with the US.
The film is based on a Rolling Stone article written by Guy Lawson, which was later turned into the novel Arms and the Dudes, though some heavy fictionalizing has been incorporated into the film script. Todd Phillips (of The Hangover trilogy fame) directs.
Though a little late in the presidential timeline, the script has some cathartic fun at the expense of George W. Bush’s Operation Iraqi Freedom and Dick Cheney’s blatant, neoconservative war adventurism, but the film is too bro to have any real profound impact on our culture. The film may as well be a moral warning against conspicuous consumption, as Diveroli and Packouz live the good life in Miami, despite the fact that everything they do is teeter-tottering on the brink of legality.
Will they fly too close to the sun for their own good? You can look up the story, but the movie is more fun the less you know, especially when the film reveals the legal consequences of the duo’s actions.
War Dogs is a fun ride, but depends too much on narration voiced by Teller. The script tries to humanize Packouz, but it comes at the expense of Diveroli’s entertaining hubris. And for all the George W. Bush-era liberals who remember what it was like to be called traitors for opposing the illegal war, the movie is quite underwhelming.
Contemptor Grade: 7/10