Movie Review: War Dogs

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Bottom Line: A true story about two schmucks who look at a website to make money from the government.  It’s a lot better than that sounds.  Boy, the Department of Defense is messed up.

Imagine if there were a website where anybody could bid on landing government contracts where you could supply weapons to our armed forces.  Well, there is!  And that’s the basic premise for “War Dogs”.  Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) has a small time company that takes small bids from said website which the big companies won’t bother with and fulfills the arms orders.  As he grows and makes a name for himself, he convinces his friend, David Packouz (Miles Teller) to join him.  Things do not progress smoothly.

The timing of the release of “War Dogs” couldn’t have been better what with the announcement that the U.S. Army can’t account for $6.5 trillion dollars.  The procurement process for the Department of Defense is broken beyond repair.  While the problems between the audit and the events in “War Dogs” are unrelated, together they show the amount of dysfunction in the department that spends over half of our government’s discretionary spending.  And before you get worried, no there is not $6.5 trillion dollars missing.  That would mean every dollar since 1993 the Department of Defense spend is missing.  This is more of an issue with bad paperwork and multiple accounting systems across disciplines causing items to be accounted for multiple times.  Still, it’s no way to run a department.  But I digress.

“War Dogs” is a well put together movie.  It takes an incredibly complicated real-life story and streamlines it so that it is easy to follow while still telling a solid story.  It also helps that Jonah Hill plays a really convincing asshole.  The second act of the movie slows down some near the end which kind of messes with the wonderfully established flow of the movie, but it picks up again in the final act.

As with all “based on a true story” movies, it would be nice to know what was real and what was manufactured and there are a few moments in this movie where things set up a little too perfectly and you wonder if it was done that perfectly for the film’s sake or if, of all the crazy things these two knuckleheads did, these select scenes happened that perfectly in real life.  Regardless, what we have here is a movie that is well worth your time and money, if only to get a glimpse into the shadier side of what is done in our name during war time.