Friday, April 12, 2024

War Dogs: The Stoner’s Guide to Big-Time Weapons Dealing

I’ll start off by saying this isn’t the typical movie review. This is a subjective take on a movie, “War Dogs,” which was thoroughly entertaining.

The Spark Notes version of the movie is that two high school friends, Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, reunite to become arms dealers in Miami. The entertaining part—other than two dudes in their mid-20s grabbing life by the throat—is the amount of weed and cocaine that was consumed in unison to the wheeling and dealing.

Jonah Hill, who plays Diveroli, gained a significant amount of weight for his part and is convincing in his role as a gluttonous sleazeball. Packouz, played by Miles Teller, was an ordinary, early career journeyman who was dabbling in massage therapy and selling bed sheets to retirement homes in Miami. Once Diveroli and Packouz reunite, it doesn’t take long for Diveroli, a small but relatively accomplished arms dealer, to convince Packouz to join the business at the prospect of making copious amounts of money.

Like many “based on a true story” movies, the big screen paves the way for several inaccuracies and embellishments, like a dangerous trek through the Triangle of Death (the combat-heavy area between Baghdad and Al Hillah in Iraq) that didn’t actually happen. But the main plot point, a too-good-to-be-true contract for two gun-industry nobodies to help America arm its allies in Afghanistan, was true.

Little time is wasted explaining backstory and developing characters, which comes a slight cost but prevented me from snapping back into reality during the 114-minute film. The plot holes are also filled with precisely timed satire and generically epic one-liners from Diveroli.

 

Efraim Diveroli: Jordanian customs seized our Berettas.
David Packouz: What? Why?
Efraim Diveroli: I don't ****ing know, David! I dropped out of high school before they covered international diplomacy!

The movie has to tread a line between two generic plotlines—political anecdotes about a corrupt government, and guns-blazing sequences of physics-defying action scenes—both of which are commonly overdone.

The political backbone of the movie was an open military contract system during the George W. Bush administration. What resulted was a bidding system for America’s military operations that gave guys like Packouz and Diveroli a chance to fulfill those contracts. But, of course, you can’t have guns without some over-the-top action.

The movie makes a small deal about Diveroli unloading an entire clip from an automatic rifle into the air in the middle of a Miami neighborhood, which in reality is a pretty heavy offense. It also seems too easy for this duo to break into big-time arms dealing. I almost felt like I could go persuade my way into an Albanian hangar full of old AK-47 ammunition to sell tens of millions of rounds to armies in the Middle East.

Truthfully, I wasn’t the one who picked to see the movie—it was a friend. Even with my initial indifference to seeing “War Dogs,” it will be one of the more entertaining movies I see all year.

If you enjoy movies about arms dealers, I would recommend “Lord of War,” which takes a slightly more serious approach to the questionable lifestyle of gun running.

Jason Clary
Jason Clary
Jason is a graduate of the University of Central Florida where he studied journalism and creative writing. He is currently the web editor at Boca Raton Magazine.

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