War Dogs: Rise and Fall of the Dogs, Lawson’s Take on War Dogs and Journalism, Review

War Dogs, a drama comedy directed by The Hangover director Todd Phillips, is inspired by a true story of two arms dealers for the American army in Afghanistan, and it hits the cinemas on August 19. The film stars the duo Jonah Hill and Miles Teller. The film is based on the Rolling Stone article by Guy Lawson, which he then elaborated into a book titled Arms and the Dudes.

War Dogs follows the lives of two childhood friends, Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) and David Packouz (Miles Teller), who meet at the funeral of a schoolmate in Miami. Both the characters in their 20’s are a complete contrast to each other. Teller‘s Packouz, a college dropout devoid of any ambitions, earns his bread by being a freelance masseur in Miami Beach. He’s also trying to earn a few extra dollars by selling bed sheets to retirement homes, when he realizes that ‘‘nobody cares about old people“. Meanwhile Hill’s Diveroli, a party animal and a sociopath, has already earned himself a name in arms-dealing and aspires to make it big in the business.

Diveroli, a veteran of the trade, lives the American dream, drives fancy cars, parties hard, takes cocaine and gets stoned. With his wallet brimming with hundred-dollar bills, he teaches Packouz the birds and bees of the trade, but no one in David’s life approves of Diveroli’s malignant influence on him.

David, to support his pregnant girlfriend (Ana de Armas), joins Efraim’s company AEY Inc., which procures arms and ammunition from the gray market. In the beginning, they are seen bidding online on small federal contracts for supplying arms to secure the deals, but they later move on to bigger ones.

They then land a $300 million contract with the Pentagon to supply AK-47 to the American soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. Because the federal government does not want to get involved in shady, illegal dealings, while procuring arms from the gray market, they hire the middlemen. This in turn gives birth to quite an escapade in the country, as two twenty-something young men secure a $300 million contract with the federal government.

The duo is seen rambling through the deserts of the middle-east under the scorching hot sun and dealing with dubious personalities, but the situation soon goes south. In 2008, the U.S. Army found out that they have been supplied an excess of Chinese ammunition in the name of Hungarian arms by the AEY Inc ., thus violating the U.S. embargo against China. This fraudulent act of the AEY Inc. prompts the American military to review their policies regarding third party arms supplier.

2011 witnesses the downfall of the Diveroli-Packouz team. Diveroli is convicted of conspiracy and one count of fraud. While he gets a sentence of four years of imprisonment, Packouz walks out by serving a period of seven months house arrest.

The two arms dealers are known as stoned arms dealers as they do business being high on cocaine, and the movie has in store a few ironic racist jokes. They are aided by an exotic third man, Bashkim (Bradley Cooper), and they have a third accomplice named Alex Podrizki.

When they smuggle a shipment of ammunition from Jordan to Iraq, the movie may resemble in places Elaine May’s Ishtar, which is a comedy about a couple of clueless Americans rambling through the middle-east.

Guy Lawson, who authored the inspiration of the film Arms and the Dudes: How three Stoners from Miami Beach became the most unlikely gunrunners in History, is very excited about the film. The book was published in 2015 and is his first book, which has now turned into a movie. He is optimistic about the movie, albeit he was not much impressed by Stephen Chin’s first draft and Jason Smilovic’s second draft and felt himself be sidetracked.