War Dogs (2016)
August 30, 2016 10:36 AM - Subscribe

Based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz (Miles Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), who worked their way up the ladder of Pentagon contracts to land a $300 million contract to arm America's allies in Afghanistan. [Trailer #1, Trailer #2]

Henry Girard is based on their real-life “gray market” middleman, the globe-trotting arms dealer Heinrich Thomet, and is played by Bradley Cooper.

More real-world background in the links of this Washington Post article on the real Efraim Diveroli, who is fighting for movie profits.
posted by filthy light thief (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I enjoyed the film to a certain extent, but I think it undersold just how much privilege created the opportunities for the two main characters. Miles Teller's character, David Packouz, may legitimately have stumbled into the field after being a massage therapist, but the actual Efraim Diveroli was the scion to a grandfather who is one pf the wealthiest property owners in LA, and his uncle is celebrity rabbi Shmuley. The shell company that Diveroli owned was his father's, which had been intended as a printing business and had just never been used, and Diveroli's uncle was a supplier to LA police officers.

My girlfriend is always glum after movies like this. "We're smart," she'll say. "Why can't we come up with selling illegal guns to the US government."

Fortunately, I knew the backstory. Smart had nothing to do with it. Being a well-connected congenital millionaire creating a side-business using family money and connections, that has everything to do with it.
posted by maxsparber at 10:46 AM on August 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


I am really unreasonably irritated that they ripped off the Scarface poster for this. It's like a little annoyed thought in my mind every time I walk past the movie theatre.
posted by selfnoise at 10:58 AM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


maxsparber, thanks for the additional background. A bit of that is also included in the Rolling Stone article by Guy Lawson, which was expanded into Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History (Amazon), before becoming a movie.

The article includes some of the lead-up to Diveroli's falling out with his uncle, which is only lightly mentioned in the movie. (And the article includes the 3rd friend, Alex Podrizki, who was blended into Pakouz to streamline the movie. In fact, there were a number of elements in the article alone that were streamlined out of the movie.)

My girlfriend is always glum after movies like this. "We're smart," she'll say. "Why can't we come up with selling illegal guns to the US government."

I was feeling a bit of that, too. The legit route is to become a government contractor, but that's a hustle in any line of business. These get rich quick schemes don't last forever, and this particular line of work looks stressful as hell.

I am really unreasonably irritated that they ripped off the Scarface poster for this. It's like a little annoyed thought in my mind every time I walk past the movie theatre.

It's a nod to the two main characters' love of the movie, to the point that they have a giant poster of this iconic moment in their office. (But in searching through the ebook on Google books, I don't see any reference to Scarface, for nitpickers who track book-to-movie details.)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:05 AM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


And now I'm annoyed at some of the twists from book (reality) to movie (story), but I won't mention them here to avoid spoiling the ending in the 4th comment (and my 2nd) in the thread.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:08 AM on August 30, 2016


Needed more ha ha.
posted by hoodrich at 12:08 AM on September 1, 2016


It felt like it was trying to hard to be The Wolf of Wall Street/Big Short for government contractors. Plus, I like my true stories to stick close to the truth, and this one was not, in baffling ways.

SPOILERS

I mean, why did they make up a girlfriend for him to treat like shit? Did they feel like they needed to have *a* character opposed to their decisions?

I was actually kind of relieved to find out she wasn't real, because she was so mistreated.
posted by graventy at 1:47 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


The story in my head is that Bradley Cooper fell in love with an outrageous pair of glasses in a prop department somewhere, has been looking for an excuse to use them for like 20 years, and had to start producing movies before anybody would let him wear them in public.

I'm not sure how I feel about the narration. It's kind of a cheap way of relaying information, and they didn't do anything particularly interesting with it. Though without the context it added, I think David may have been even less likable.

Similarly, I have mixed feelings about the title cards. It was a kind of cool device the first couple times, but after a while it just seems to have left me waiting to hear the line, rather than actually setting the tone of the events that followed them.

I did like Jonah Hill's performance. Efraim's a fun character to hate.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 5:11 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


The screenplay was weak and formulaic: The filmmakers used music and narration as a crutch for sketchy character development and lousy story-telling. It's like they flunked out after their sophomore year at the University of Goodfellas.

(I did like David M. Packouz's cameo, singing "The Reaper" at a senior citizens center, however.)

Also, Jonah Hill is miscast here; he's way too old for the part. Efraim Diveroli was only 19 when he started arms dealing - that's what makes this whole story so amazing.

I don't mind that the movie isn't completely historically accurate. That's the nature of movies. But because he deserves the credit and is mentioned in the movie, here's NYT's CJ Chiver's excellent report that broke this story.
posted by sixpack at 9:30 AM on January 9


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