War Dogs (2016 film)

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War Dogs
An artwork poster of the film which parodies "Scarface" and shows the two main actors with the title slogan and the credits.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTodd Phillips
Screenplay by
Based onArms and the Dudes
by Guy Lawson
Produced by
CinematographyLawrence Sher
Edited byJeff Groth
Music byCliff Martinez
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • August 3, 2016 (2016-08-03) (New York City)
  • August 19, 2016 (2016-08-19) (United States)
Running time
114 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$50 million[3]
Box office$86.2 million[4]

War Dogs is a 2016 American black 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,[5] as well as Efraim Diveroli's 2016 memoir Once a Gun Runner as outlined in an ongoing lawsuit.[6][7] Lawson then wrote a 2015 book, Arms and the Dudes, detailing the story.[8] 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.[9] The film, which has an unreliable narrator, is heavily fictionalized and dramatized,[10][11] 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.[12][13]

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.[14] Hill received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.[15]


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 Inc., 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 drives 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 of AK-47 ammunition, the duo encounters 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 learns Efraim did not pay Enver, the Albanian handling the repackaging, the 100,000 USD repackaging fee. Enver reveals that he knows about the true reason of the repackaging and indirectly threatening to rat them out to US authorities, causing David to promise to get Efraim to pay him. David even learns that his Albanian driver, Bashkim, went missing and starts to wonder if he has been killed.

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 pleads guilty and gets seven months' house arrest for his cooperation.

Months later, Henry apologizes to David for abducting him in Albania and shares his appreciation for not being turned in to the FBI. David asks what has happened to Bashkim, the Albanian driver, but Henry does not answer, instead offering David a briefcase of money in exchange for "no more questions." The movie ends, leaving David's decision unclear.



Initially, Jesse Eisenberg and Shia LaBeouf were set to star in the film;[16] however, Jonah Hill and Miles Teller were eventually cast.[17][18] Further casting was announced in early 2015, with Ana de Armas joining in February,[19] and JB Blanc joining in March.[20] Screenwriter Stephen Chin based many of the incidents on his own experiences in Iraq.[21]

Shooting was initially set to begin late April 2015, in Miami, for several weeks.[22] According to SSN Insider, filming began on March 2, 2015.[23] Later confirmed by the Business Wire on March 17, 2015, filming was underway in Romania.[24] On April 29, 2015, Hill and Teller were spotted filming on the set in Burbank, California.[9][25]



Warner Bros. originally set the film for a release on March 11, 2016.[26] In November 2015, the release date was moved to August 19, 2016.[27]

Box office[edit]

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.[4]

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.[28] 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.[29]

Critical response[edit]

War Dogs received mixed reviews from critics.[30] On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 61%, based on 235 reviews with an average rating of 6.00/10. 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."[14] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 57 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[31] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[32]

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."[33]

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..."[34] Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave the film two out of four stars, stating: "War Dogs is a film about horrible people that refuses to own the horribleness."[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gleiberman, Owen (August 16, 2016). "Film Review: 'War Dogs'". Variety. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
  2. ^ "War Dogs (15)". British Board of Film Classification. July 19, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  3. ^ "2016 Feature Film Study" (PDF). FilmLA. May 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 31, 2017. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "War Dogs (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  5. ^ "The Stoner Arms Dealers: How Two American Kids Became Big-Time Weapons Traders". Rolling Stone. March 16, 2011. Archived from the original on January 17, 2018. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  6. ^ "The Truth Behind the Movie "War Dogs"". November 19, 2019. Archived from the original on March 1, 2020. Retrieved December 9, 2019 – via Youtube.
  7. ^ Shammas, Brittany (2018-01-05). "War Dogs Smuggler Efraim Diveroli Sues Memoir Co-Author". Miami New Times. Archived from the original on 2019-12-09. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  8. ^ Lawson, Guy (9 June 2015). Arms and the dudes. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1451667592.
  9. ^ a b Evry, Max (April 30, 2015). "Arms & the Dudes: First Photos of Jonah Hill and Miles Teller on the Set". comingsoon.net. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  10. ^ Zwecker, Bill (2016-08-14). "Miles Teller, Jonah Hill learned how to become 'War Dogs'". Chicago Sun Times. Archived from the original on 2018-07-20. Retrieved 2016-08-16.
  11. ^ Roeper, Richard (2016-08-16). "Jonah Hill, Miles Teller armed and hilarious in slick 'War Dogs'". Chicago Sun Times. Archived from the original on 2019-05-02. Retrieved 2016-08-16.
  12. ^ O'Hehir, Andrew (2016-08-16). "Bros in the heart of darkness: Jonah Hill and Miles Teller's "War Dogs" is a scathing indictment of Dick Cheney's America". Salon. Archived from the original on 2019-05-17. Retrieved 2016-08-16.
  13. ^ Ito, Robert (2016-08-12). "Guns. Money. Iraq. And Then a Screenplay for 'War Dogs.'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2018-02-11. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  14. ^ a b "War Dogs (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Archived from the original on May 10, 2019. Retrieved December 19, 2021.
  15. ^ "2017 Golden Globes: full list of nominations". The Guardian. 12 December 2016. Archived from the original on 3 April 2019. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  16. ^ Sneider, Jeff (December 3, 2014). "Miles Teller Eyed to Join Jonah Hill in Todd Phillips' 'Arms and the Dudes'". TheWrap. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  17. ^ Kit, Borys (December 3, 2014). "Jonah Hill to Star in Crime Comedy 'Arms and the Dudes'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  18. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (February 12, 2015). "'Whiplash' Star Miles Teller Joins Jonah Hill In 'Arms And The Dudes'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  19. ^ Hipes, Patrick (February 13, 2015). "Ana De Armas Joins Dudes In 'Arms And The Dudes'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  20. ^ Pedersen, Erik (March 5, 2015). "IFC Films Locks Up 'Stanford Prison Experiment'; JB Blanc Joins 'Arms And The Dudes' — Film Briefs". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
  21. ^ "The Frame | 'War Dogs' screenwriter: Driving through Iraq's 'triangle of death' was easier than dealing with studio heads | 89.3 KPCC". Scpr.org. 2016-08-22. Archived from the original on 2016-10-30. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
  22. ^ "Jonah Hill's New Dark Comedy "Arms and the Dudes" to Film in Miami". onlocationvacations.com. February 24, 2015. Archived from the original on June 28, 2021. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
  23. ^ "On the Set for 3/2/15: Matthew McConaughey & Gugu Mbatha-Raw Start 'Free State of Jones', 'Kickboxer' Wraps & More". ssninsider.com. March 2, 2015. Archived from the original on March 5, 2015. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
  24. ^ "Shooting Begins on "Arms & the Dudes"". businesswire.com. March 17, 2015. Archived from the original on June 28, 2021. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  25. ^ Molinet, Jason (April 30, 2015). "Jonah Hill spotted on set of latest movie looking noticeably heavier". nydailynews.com. Archived from the original on June 28, 2021. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  26. ^ A. Lincoln, Ross (May 19, 2015). "'The Accountant', 'Project XX', And More Get Release Dates". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
  27. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (November 12, 2015). "Warner Bros. Moves Todd Phillips' 'Arms & The Dudes' To Summer". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2015-11-14.
  28. ^ "'Ben-Hur' remake likely won't be able to topple 'Suicide Squad' at the box office". Los Angeles Times. August 16, 2016.
  29. ^ "'Suicide Squad' Holding No. 1 Turf; 'War Dogs' & 'Kubo' In Staring Contest; 'Ben-Hur' Crashing". Deadline Hollywood. 22 August 2016.
  30. ^ "'War Dogs' Critical Roundup: Reviews Praise Jonah Hill in Uneven Action Comedy". IndieWire. August 18, 2016. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  31. ^ "War Dogs Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  32. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  33. ^ Singer, Matt (August 16, 2016). "'War Dogs' Review: Todd Phillips' Best Movie Since 'The Hangover'". ScreenCrush. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  34. ^ Vishnevetsky, Ignatiy (Aug 18, 2016). "The gun-running true story War Dogs is all bark, no bite". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  35. ^ Seitz, Matt Zoller (Aug 17, 2016). "War Dogs". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 19 September 2019.

External links[edit]