It’s a rags to riches story. Sort of.
War Dogs, starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller, is about two 20-somethings living in Miami Beach, Florida who become arms dealers during the Iraq War.
Even though the pair have no military — or even significant business — experience they land lucrative military contracts with the Pentagon by simply bidding on contracts listed on a public website. They do not have to manufacture the products — like hand guns, grenades or assault rifles — they simply broker deals by finding a source.
All For Money
Of course, as a viewer — and as a citizen — the first thought that pops in my mind is: Really? Anyone can bid on a defense contract? As the movie explains, during the Iraq War the website was created to ‘level the playing field’ for military contracts mostly because of pushback president George W. Bush received over the unfair advantage Halliburton received. (Halliburton was the company associated with vice president Dick Cheney). To offset the political fallout, a portion of all military contracts were handled by small businesses.
Smoking Dope, Selling Guns
That decision opened the door for Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, turning the two pot-smoking, college dropouts into legitimate, legal international arms dealers.
The movie follows the pair through their struggle to become uber-wealthy and peaks when they land a $300 million contract. The deal, which ties them to at least one unsavory business partner, causes the partnership to unravel. They hit several obstacles, but it’s not the obstacles that sinks them, instead it is good old-fashioned, all-American greed.
They stiff a small-time business owner in Afghanistan.
Cost of War
The movie is definitely worth watching to learn about the exploits of Diveroli and Packouz, but it also reveals a much larger and more significant problem. It unveils the sheer volume of money diverted from other American needs. The film opens with statistics about the cost of war — detailing the $17,000+ it takes to outfit a single wartime soldier and the cost of air conditioning ($20 billion annually) to keep the bases cool.
In the end, War Dogs is just another cautionary tale reminding us that in times of war, monetary profit — not justice — motivates unsavory men and governments.
Rated: 4 out of 5