War Dogs (2016 film)
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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|
War Dogs is a 2016 American biographical dark comedy-crime film directed by Todd Phillips and written by Phillips, Jason Smilovic and Stephen Chin, based on a Rolling Stone article by Guy Lawson. Lawson then wrote a book titled 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.
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. The title was chosen by imitating SPC Austin Smith, who first used the term after having heard Collin Stark utter the phrase in casual conversation. It received mixed reviews from critics and grossed over $86 million. Hill received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
In 2005, David Packouz lives in Miami, Florida, working as a massage therapist and living with his girlfriend Iz. Desiring an additional source of income, David spends his life savings on high-quality Egyptian cotton sheets, planning to sell them to Miami retirement homes, but this venture fails to produce results. At a funeral for a friend, David runs into his high school best friend Efraim Diveroli, who had moved to Los Angeles some years prior to work with his uncle selling guns. Efraim has left his uncle and formed his own company, AEY, which fills orders for arms placed by the US government due to the ongoing war in Iraq. David's life takes another turn when his girlfriend informs him that she is pregnant. Efraim offers him a job at AEY, and even though David and Iz both vehemently oppose the war, David eventually agrees, telling his girlfriend that he has begun selling his cotton sheets to the US government through Efraim's contacts.
Efraim explains to David that all orders placed for military equipment are posted on a public website where anyone can place bids on filling the orders, and their job is to find the small orders that larger contractors do not bother with and place bids on them, with these smaller orders still being worth millions of dollars. A local small business owner, Ralph Slutzky, assists the business with funding, under the false belief that AEY only sells arms to help protect Israel. Eventually, David and Efraim land a contract to provide several thousand Beretta pistols to the Iraqi Police in Baghdad, a deal that would put them on the map. Unfortunately, an Italian embargo blocks the shipment to Iraq, so Efraim attempts to route the shipment through Jordan, but the shipment gets held up there as well. Iz is upset after learning the nature of David's true business after overhearing a conversation between him and Efraim. David and Efraim fly to Jordan to free up their cargo or risk being blacklisted by the US Government for failing to deliver.
In Jordan, Efraim manages to bribe some locals to free up the Beretta shipment, but are still not allowed to fly the cargo to Baghdad without a permit that would take several weeks to acquire. The Berettas are loaded onto a truck and the two are provided with a driver who offers to drive them across the border to Iraq which requires no permit. The trio drive through the night, at one point having to bribe a surprise border patrol with two cartons of cigarettes, and later being pursued by armed insurgents while trying to get gas, but eventually safely arrive at the military base. Captain Santos receives the shipment with delight and expresses how impressed he is that David and Efraim drove through the Triangle of Death to deliver the goods; the two are subsequently paid handsomely for their work.
Bolstered by their success, AEY continues to secure larger deals and make more money, even moving into a larger office and hiring more employees, and David's daughter Ella is born. Efraim, however, continues to grow more unstable and untrustworthy, as the company is suddenly given a chance to land their biggest deal yet. Known as "The Afghan Deal", the US Government wishes to arm the Afghan military for the long term, and posts a massive order worth $300 million, which includes 100 million rounds of AK-47 ammunition and would have netted the duo a $100 million profit. Filling this order proves to be near-impossible for a two-man operation, particularly as there is a global shortage on AK-47 ammunition, but the two end up lucking into an encounter with legendary US arms dealer Henry Girard. Girard has access to the massive weapon depots that were created in Albania but never used, and must now be disposed of in accordance with NATO treaties, which includes well over a hundred million rounds of AK-47 ammunition. Girard cannot directly deal with the US Government anymore, due to being on a watchlist, and wants to make the deal through AEY. Efraim agrees, although David expresses discomfort working with a man who is on a terrorist watchlist.
The two go to Albania to confirm that the ammunition works, then place the winning bid on the contract—though Efraim is upset to learn that they underbid their competitors by $53 million, greatly reducing their potential profits. Meanwhile, Iz grows frustrated with David's continuing string of lies about his work, and leaves to live with her mother. While in Albania to prepare the shipment, David discovers that virtually all of the rounds are Chinese-made and illegal due to a US embargo against Chinese arms. Efraim comes up with the idea of re-packaging the rounds in plastic bags and cardboard boxes, pretending that they are concerned about the weight of the shipments (though it inadvertently does save $3 million in shipping costs). While the ammunition is repackaged and shipped, Efraim learns that Henry charged them a 400% markup (10 cents on 2.5 cents) on the rounds, and wants to cut him out of the deal. David protests that they are all making great money, but Efraim destroys the only copy of his partnership contract with David and proceeds with his plan to cut Henry out.
Henry retaliates by having David kidnapped from his hotel room, beaten and held at gunpoint before leaving him alive, though David is left wondering if his now-missing Albanian driver, Bashkim, has been killed. David later learns that Efraim did not pay the $100,000 promised to Enver, the Albanian who is handling the repackaging.
David returns to Miami, where he tells Efraim that he is quitting AEY and demands immediate payout of the $4 million owed for his work-to-date, and even offers to settle for $1.6 million, but Efraim refuses and laughs about the partnership contract being gone. David returns to working as a massage therapist and convinces Iz to move back in with him by telling her the truth about his AEY work. Weeks later, Efraim and Ralph Slutzky meet with David. Efraim offers David a paltry severance package of $200,000, angering David who responds by threatening to blackmail him with evidence he has of multiple falsified documents they created to look like a respectable company in order to win the Afghanistan contract. Shortly afterwards, David and Efraim are arrested by the FBI who had been contacted by Enver, disgruntled after being unpaid for the repackaging contract and understanding the implications of violation of the arms embargo. Previously, the FBI had arrested Ralph who agreed to wear a wire in a meeting with David and Efraim, supplying the FBI with solid testimony to arrest them. 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 in exchange for co-operating with the investigation.
Months later, David meets with Henry who apologizes for the kidnapping and assault in Albania, claiming he had bad information. He also thanks David for not mentioning his name in his confession to the FBI. David begins to ask questions about the events of the deal, including the fate of Bashkim. In response, Henry opens a briefcase full of money, a part of his own cut from the Afghan deal, and offers it to David in exchange for "no more questions". The movie ends before David decides.
- 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 24, 2015, Hill was spotted on the film set in the Century City district of Los Angeles. On April 29, 2015, Hill and Teller were spotted filming on the set in Burbank, California. On May 7, 2015, filming took place in Miami.
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.
- 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 received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 60%, based on 221 reviews with an average rating of the 6/10. 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-to-negative review, stated that "War Dogs is a film about horrible people that refuses to own the horribleness."
- 2008 Gërdec explosions
- Lord of War (2005 film) semi-biographical film about an international arms dealer
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