War Dogs full movie review - War Dogs
I saw the trailer for this film just days before it was released, I liked the three big stars in it, and it looked like it could be good fun, I was also intrigued by the high praise by critics, directed by Todd Phillips (Road Trip, Due Date, The Hangover Trilogy).
Basically in 2005 David Packouz (Whiplash's Miles Teller) spent his life savings on high-quality Egyptian cotton sheets, planning to sell them to Miami retirement homes, to make income for him and his girlfriend Iz (Ana de Armas), but it fails. At a funeral he runs into his high school best friend Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), who used to sell guns for his uncle, he has now formed his own company, AEY (which doesn't stand for anything), which fills orders for arms placed by the US government due to the ongoing War in Iraq. David and both oppose the war, but he accepts a job from Efraim, following Iz telling him that she is pregnant, David lies to Iz that he is selling his cotton sheets to the military through Efraim's contacts. Efraim explains to David that all military equipment orders placed are posted on a public website, where anyone can place bids on filling the orders, their job is to find the small orders that larger contractors ignore and place bids on them, these smaller orders are still worth millions of dollars, they funded by small Ralph Slutzky (Kevin Pollak), who has also been lied to. Eventually David and Efraim land a contract that could put them on the map, for US Troops stationed in Baghdad, to provide several thousand Beretta pistols, there is a problem for the shipment to travel through Jordan to Iraq, Iz overhears a conversation between David and Efraim and discovers the truth of the business, she is upset. David and Efraim fly to Jordan to free up their cargo, or risk being blacklisted, with no permission to fly the cargo to Baghdad they are are provided with a driver to transport the guns to Iraq, as no permit is required for driving weapons across the border. They drive through the night, bribe border patrol with cartons of cigarettes, and get attacked by insurgents, but they eventually arrive at the military base, Captain Philip Santos (Patrick St. Esprit) is impressed with the lengths David and Efraim have gone to, and they are paid. Following this AEY continues to secure larger deals and make more money, they move into a bigger office and hire more employees, David welcomes a daughter named Ella, but Efraim is becoming increasingly unstable and untrustworthy, as they are given the chance to land their biggest deal yet, the US military want to arm Afghan for the military long-term, and place an order of $300 million, which includes 100 million rounds of AK-47 ammunition, this is called "The Afghan Deal". US arms dealer Henry Girard (Bradley Cooper) has access to the massive weapon storages created in Albania but never used, which includes well over 100 million rounds of AK-47 ammunition, he is on the watchlist and cannot deal directly with the US Government anymore, he makes the deal with AEY with Efraim's agreement, but David is uncomfortable working with a man on a terrorist watchlist. David and Efraim go to Albania to confirm the ammunition deal, but their bid on the contract ends up being fifty million dollars less than other bids placed, they win the bid, meanwhile Iz has grown frustrated with David's lies, so leaves to live with her mother. David realises that virtually all of the rounds have made illegally, but Efraim comes up with the idea to re- package the rounds in generic packaging, pretending that they are concerned about the weight of the shipments, it also saves them thousands to fly the cargo. David oversees the process of rounds packaged and shipped off, but Efraim plots to try to cut Henry out of the deal after making a discovery about the markup, David protests, Efraim destroys the contract between them, Henry retaliates by kidnapping David, held at gunpoint and beaten. David leaves Albania and returns to Miami, he wants out of AEY and demands a $4 million payoff from Efraim for the work he has done, Efraim refuses, David is forced to return to working as a massage therapist and convinces Iz to come back, telling the truth about everything. Efraim offers a break-off package of $200,000 to David, which David responds threatening to blackmail him with evidence of the falsified documentation the two created to look like a respectable company, shortly after this David and Efraim are arrested by the FBI, they were reported to the US Authorities by the men who had been hired to re-package the rounds, as they were never paid, Ralph Slutzky was arrested, wore a wire during a meeting between David and Efraim, giving the FBI evidence to arrest them. In the end Efraim was sentenced to four years in prison for charges related to The Afghan Deal, and David was put under house arrest for seven months, in exchange for co-operating with the investigation, David later meets with Henry, who apologises for the kidnap, he also thanks David for not mentioning his name in confession, Henry pulls out a suitcase full of money, part of his cut from The Afghan Deal, David's choice of taking the money or not left ambiguous. Also starring JB Blanc as Bashkim, Barry Livingston as Rock Island Bureaucrat, Homeland's Shaun Toub as Marlboro and Brenda Koo as Vanessa. Hill and Teller play their parts equally well as the unlikely 20-something arms dealers / gunrunners, Cooper gets his moments as well as one of their associates, it really is a stranger-than-fiction fact-based story, it gets the laughs from their stoner interactions and one- liners, and gets thrills from the arms trading and war zone stuff, an inventive and impressive biographical crime war comedy-drama. Very good!