War Dogs (2016 film)
War Dogs is a 2016 American partly biographical partly fictional dark comedy-crime film directed by Todd Phillips and written by Phillips, Jason Smilovic and Stephen Chin, based on a 2011 Rolling Stone article by Guy Lawson, as well as Efraim Diveroli's 2016 memoir Once a Gun Runner as outlined in an ongoing lawsuit. Lawson then wrote a 2015 book, Arms and the Dudes, detailing the story. The film follows two arms dealers, Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, who receive a U.S. Army contract to supply ammunitions for the Afghan National Army worth approximately $300 million. The film is heavily fictionalized and dramatized, and some of its events, such as the duo driving through Iraq, were either invented or based on other events, such as screenwriter Stephen Chin's own experiences.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Todd Phillips|
|Based on||Arms and the Dudes|
by Guy Lawson
|Music by||Cliff Martinez|
|Edited by||Jeff Groth|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$86.2 million|
The film stars Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Ana de Armas, and Bradley Cooper, who also co-produced. Filming began on March 2, 2015 in Romania. The film premiered in New York City on August 3, 2016 and was theatrically released by Warner Bros. Pictures on August 19, 2016. It received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $86 million. Hill received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
In 2005, David Packouz is a massage therapist living in Miami, Florida with his girlfriend Iz. David spends his life savings on high-quality bedsheets to resell to retirement homes, but the venture fails. David runs into his old friend Efraim Diveroli, who has formed his own company, AEY, selling arms to the US government for the ongoing war in Iraq. Iz informs David she is pregnant, and Efraim offers him a job at AEY; although David and Iz vehemently oppose the war, David joins AEY and lies to Iz.
Efraim explains that military equipment orders are posted on a public website, and their job is to bid for small orders ignored by larger contractors but still worth millions. Local businessman Ralph Slutzky provides them funding, under the false belief that AEY only sells arms to protect Israel. David and Efraim land a contract to provide several thousand Beretta pistols to the Iraqi Police in Baghdad, but an Italian embargo blocks the shipment, which is waylaid in Jordan. Failing to deliver the cargo as promised would mean that AEY would be blacklisted from any future contracts. Meanwhile, Iz overhears the true nature of David's business.
David and Efraim fly to Jordan, bribing locals to release the shipment, and are provided with a driver to transport them and the shipment into Iraq. The trio drive through the night, bribing a border patrol and evading armed insurgents, and arrive at the military base, where Captain Santos is impressed that they survived the Triangle of Death; the two are paid handsomely.
AEY secures larger and more lucrative deals, expanding their operation, and David's daughter Ella is born, while Efraim grows more unstable and untrustworthy. The company has a chance at "The Afghan deal", their biggest yet: the US government posts a massive order worth $300 million, which requires 100 million rounds of AK-47 ammunition and would net a $100 million profit. Facing a global shortage on AK-47 ammunition, the duo encounter legendary arms dealer Henry Girard, who has access to massive unused weapon depots in Albania. Needing to dispose of these arsenals—including over 100 million rounds of AK-47 ammunition—in accordance with NATO treaties, and unable to deal directly with the US, Girard offers to make the deal through AEY. Efraim agrees, despite David's discomfort at working with a man on a terrorist watchlist.
The two go to Albania to test the ammunition and win the contract, though Efraim learns they severely underbid their competitors. Iz, frustrated with David's lies, leaves to live with her mother. Preparing the shipment in Albania, David discovers virtually all the rounds are Chinese-made and illegal due to a US embargo; to conceal this, Efraim has the ammunition repackaged. Learning Henry has charged them a 400% markup, Efraim plans to cut him out of the deal, ignoring David's protests and destroying the only copy of his partnership contract with David.
Henry retaliates by having David kidnapped, beaten, and threatened at gunpoint; David wonders if his missing Albanian driver, Bashkim, has been killed. David learns Efraim did not pay Enver, the Albanian handling the repackaging.
Returning to Miami, David quits AEY and demands the money he is owed, but Efraim refuses. David returns to working as a massage therapist and convinces Iz to move back in with him, telling her the truth about AEY. Weeks later, Efraim and Ralph offer David a paltry severance package, and David threatens Efraim with evidence of his falsified company documents. Shortly after, David and Efraim are arrested by the FBI, who had been contacted by the disgruntled Enver. The FBI had previously arrested Ralph, who wore a wire in an incriminating meeting with David and Efraim. Efraim is sentenced to four years in prison for numerous crimes related to conspiracy and fraud on the Afghan deal, while David gets seven months' house arrest for his cooperation.
Months later, Henry apologizes to David for abducting him in Albania and thanks him for not mentioning Henry to the FBI. David asks Henry about the events of the deal, including Bashkim's fate, but Henry offers him a briefcase of money in exchange for "no more questions." The movie ends, leaving David's decision unclear.
- Jonah Hill as Efraim Diveroli 
- Miles Teller as David Packouz
- Ana de Armas as Iz
- Bradley Cooper as Henry Girard
- Kevin Pollak as Ralph Slutzky
- Patrick St. Esprit as Captain Phillip Santos
- Shaun Toub as Marlboro
- JB Blanc as Bashkim
- Gabriel Spahiu as Enver
- Barry Livingston as Army Bureaucrat
- Eddie Jemison as Hilldale Home Manager
- David Packouz as Singer at Hilldale Home
- Wallace Langham as Vegas X Supplier
Initially, Jesse Eisenberg and Shia LaBeouf were set to star in the film; however, Jonah Hill and Miles Teller were eventually cast. Further casting was announced in early 2015, with Ana de Armas joining in February, and JB Blanc joining in March. Screenwriter Stephen Chin based many of the incidents on his own experiences in Iraq.
Shooting was initially set to begin late April 2015, in Miami, for several weeks. According to SSN Insider, filming began on March 2, 2015. Later confirmed by the Business Wire on March 17, 2015, filming was underway in Romania. On April 29, 2015, Hill and Teller were spotted filming on the set in Burbank, California.
- Waters of Nazareth by Justice
- Funk #49 by the James Gang
- They Broke His Pelvis by Cliff Martinez
- Don't Fear The Reaper by Donald Roeser
- So What'Cha Want by The Beastie Boys
- What Up Gangsta by 50 Cent
- Fireworks Went Off by Cliff Martinez, Mac Quayle & Peter Adams
- Jump Around by House of Pain
- Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith
- Can Your Monkey Do The Dog by Rufus Thomas
- Bojangles by Pitbull
- Red Red Wine by Neil Diamond
- The Passenger by Iggy Pop
- Ashgar Be Shama (Izash Remix) by Ilham al-Madfai
- Chathab by Ilham al-Madfai
- Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival
- Dimension by Wolfmother
- Ooh Las Vegas by Gram Parsons
- Ain't That A Kick In The Head by Dean Martin
- Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon by Neil Diamond
- The Last Drive Home by Cliff Martinez & Randy Alan Miller
- Pushka Kërkon Trima (Rritu Biri i Nënës) played by Albanian Popular Music Ensemble of Tirana
- Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
- What Is Love by Haddaway
- You Keep Me Hangin' On by Vanilla Fudge
- L'amour est un oiseau rebelle (by Georges Bizet) sung by Maria Callas and the Orchestre national de France
- Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love
- Forsythia by Cliff Martinez
- Time in a Bottle by David Young
- Behind Blue Eyes by The Who
- Everybody Knows by Leonard Cohen
War Dogs grossed $43 million in North America and $43.2 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $86.2 million, against a budget of $40 million.
In the United States and Canada, War Dogs was released on August 19, 2016, alongside Ben-Hur and Kubo and the Two Strings, and was projected to gross $12–15 million from 3,100 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $1.3 million from its Thursday night previews and $5.5 million on its first day (including previews). It went on to gross $14.3 million in its opening weekend, finishing third at the box office and first among new releases.
War Dogs received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 61%, based on 229 reviews with an average rating of the 6.06/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "War Dogs rises on the strength of Jonah Hill's compelling performance to take a lightly entertaining look at troubling real-world events." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 57 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
ScreenCrush's Matt Singer said, "Superficially, the movie looks a lot like past Phillips comedies about men behaving badly, with dirty jokes and wacky hijinks galore. But War Dogs is more critical of its protagonists’ behavior, and there's plenty of sad commentary about the state of modern America."
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club had misgivings about the film's slant and biographical omissions, writing: "One might quibble with the way Phillips limits responsibility on the Pentagon deal by painting AEY as better businessmen than they actually were [...], while avoiding the darker sides of the story..." Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com, in a mixed review, stated that "War Dogs is a film about horrible people that refuses to own the horribleness."
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