War Dogs, the 2016 film by director Todd Phillips (Old School, Due Date, The Hangover Trilogy), is the true story of two twenty something Americans who managed to work their way into the world of arms trading during the late 2000’s. It is partly based on the book Arms and the Dudes by Guy Lawson.
Somewhat of a comedy drama, the film stars Jonah Hill as Efraim Diveroli, and Miles Teller as his former school friend David Packouz. When the two reunite, with Packouz now a male sports masseuse and purveyor of egyptian cotton bedding, is drawn to work for Diveroli’s new company AEY – a company that he has started in order to sell weapons to the US Army. All whilst keeping this news from his wife Iz, played by Ana de Armas.
The business, born out of the US procurement policy which allows company’s to bid on contracts for the army, is effectively a middle man between the contracts an weapons suppliers. The entry point that Diveroli has found, means that by targetting small value contracts that major suppliers aren’t interested in, he has been able to carve a business out for himself.
Not only does Packouz joining AEY help Diveroli in the short term, but he actually becomes part of allowing the company into larger and larger deals, in which the two find themselves taking bigger and bigger risks to fulfil the deals.
I can give you no better summary of this film that it is the exact combination of Wolf of Wall Street meets Lord of War. To some extent, the issue is that it lacks the charisma of the first and the power of the second. It is though a thoroughly enjoyable tale which allows the two leads to cut loose and tell a hugely interesting story where the bad guy in reality is the ridiculous governmental policy that allows the two to get into the situation in the first place.
Both Hill and Teller are great in their roles but Hill especially shines in the film with both real moments of comedy and darkness, plus his characters laugh is highly memorable. The most interesting thing for me though is that in terms of the work of Todd Phillips, it is a far more mature work with a view on real life events than he has traditionally taken.
In the context of recent films that portray ‘true stories’ about people getting into ridiculous situations, it is infinitely better than Mark Wahlberg’s Pain and Gain.
It’s worth a watch, partly based on the elements of true story (although I believe that there is a lot of fiction in the specifics), and the enjoyable performances.
That’s what I thought – what about you? Have you seen it? Comment below and share your thoughts…