by Jennifer Stevens
featured image by Gage Skidmore
courtesy of Creative Commons
After many years apart, Efraim unexpectedly arrives back in the life of his childhood best friend, David Packouz (Miles Teller) at a classmate’s funeral. David’s been struggling to make ends meet as a massage therapist when he learns that his girlfriend is pregnant. Efraim just so happens to have the perfect opportunity to enlist David in his firearms business. What David soon learns is that this isn’t any regular firearms operation – Efraim is selling guns to the United States government during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite David’s objections to the war, Efraim is able to convince him that if someone is going to be making money from arms dealing, then it might as well be the two of them, because the war will continue regardless. Despite his reservations and Efraim’s less-than-stellar reputation, David signs on to support his growing family (and neglects to mention exactly what product he is selling to his girlfriend). As the movie progresses, the best friends get deeper into the arms business and richer in the process. David’s money troubles are over as the business partners buy matching beachfront condos and luxury cars. All the while, their transactions get riskier, including a drive through Fallujah’s “Triangle of Death” to deliver weapons to an American base. As David and Efraim continue to grow their business, they bid on a huge contract with the government to supply weapons and ammunition to the Afghan military. While David works diligently to fulfill the contract, he begins to question Efraim’s ethics and commitment to their friendship.
Teller and Diveroli are perfectly cast as the unlikely pair of arms dealers. Teller plays David as unassuming and completely trusting of his best friend, despite the signs that should probably lead him to believe otherwise. This includes that fact that everyone else seems to think that Efraim is a little smarmy. And if anyone can play smarmy but likeable, it’s Jonah Hill. Hill has a way of being creepy and slick, while still making the audience laugh. Just like that guy from high school, you want to hate him, but for some reason you might be inclined to follow-along in his ridiculous, yet profitable, plans. Bradley Cooper also makes an appearance as a mysterious and slightly terrifying middleman in the deal with the Afghan army.
While based on a true story, the movie leaves the audience thinking, this couldn’t possibly happen. Yet, it’s interesting to learn exactly how some opportunists have profited on war-time arms dealing. In the end, the movie may try to do too much. It’s unclear if it’s a story about friendship or about the madness of war or about an opportunist who is willing to do anything for money. No matter what, you’ll leave the theater feeling a little more jaded than you were before. War Dogs will be released in theaters on August 19.