A Made-in-Miami Scheme Called “War Dogs”
By Skip Sheffield
It comes as no surprise “War Dogs” originated in Miami. It is the Casablanca of America, full of strange, exotic and often desperate and dangerous characters.
“War Dogs” is based on a real-life scheme that emerged in Miami from the wreckage of the Iraq War.
David Packouz (Miles Teller) is a struggling Miami entrepreneur, attempting to peddle high-quality bed sheets to senior living facilities. The problem is, no one seems to care much about the old folks’ comfort. David lives with his devoted girlfriend Iz (Ana de Armas), who soon discovers she is pregnant.
Onto the scene bursts Ephraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), a one-time junior high classmate of David’s in Miami Beach. Ephraim has been hustling in Los Angeles. Now he is thinking bigger. It is 2008 and the ill-advised Iraq War is raging. Ephraim explains that it costs the U.S. Government $17,500 to outfit just one soldier. When George W. Bush’s buddy Dick Cheney was discovered with his hand in the till, directing government contracts to his Haliburton Company, President Bush issued a directive for open bidding for all U.S. Military contracts. Ephraim convinces David they could get in on the gravy train, despite their lack of knowledge or experience. They begin small-scale at first, but lo they land their first contract and the payoff is big. The young twentysomethings create a shell company, AEY. Soon they have an office, staff, stationery and all the trappings of a real arms supplier.
Jonah Hill piled back on the pounds to play the reprehensible, amoral Ephraim. Hill is a most convincing slimy sleazeball. The boys get in way over their heads when they bid on and win the $300 million contract to supply the entire Afghan Army with arms and ammo. Thanks to shady arms dealer Henry Girard (Bradley Cooper in a cameo) the boys find a cut-rate stash of arms and ammo in Albania. Complications ensue- deadly complications.
“War is the economy,” one of the characters declares early in the story. It figures that two young men inspired by the ultra-violent movie “Scarface” will run into real-life violence. In an offhand way “War Dogs” is a strong anti-war statement; at least as war is waged by the wasteful, inept U.S. Government.