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War Dogs True Story: How Much Of The Movie Was Real

Todd Phillips’ War Dogs movie was based on real events, but War Dogs’ true story was different than what appeared in the film. War Dogs’ true story-inspired tale comes 11 years after Nicolas Cage’s own iconic portrayal of a real-life gun runner in 2005’s Lord of War. Warner Bros released War Dogs in 2016, and the focus of War Dogs‘ true story, real guys Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, are two best friends that landed a colossal arms deal with the Pentagon.

War Dogs was an entertaining bro-comedy that received middling reviews and took in a worldwide gross of $86.2 million from a budget of around $40 million. What’s most striking about the film is the rambunctious true story at its core. Their contract means they’re responsible for arming allies of the US with weapons in Afghanistan. When things go awry, the pair set off on a globetrotting adventure that sees them meddle with corrupt politicians and volatile arms dealers to make an extra buck. Critical reviews of War Dogs call it an above-average film.


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War Dogs‘ true story inspiration seems hard to believe. However, while War Dogs does dramatize certain elements to make them more suitable for cinematic retelling, the core story is faithful to reality. How much of the War Dogs true story and historic accounts actually made it to the screen?

What The Film Gets Right About The War Dogs True Story

War Dogs - Jonah Hill and Miles Teller

There are a lot of things War Dogs gets right. The story was first covered by Rolling Stone, which gave a detailed report of the events. Guy Lawson’s article was later expanded into a book, Arms and the Dudes, which set the foundations for Phillips’ biopic. Along with co-writers Stephen Chin and Jason Smilovic, Phillips managed to give a fairly accurate depiction of the events. The backstories that David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli – played respectively by Miles Teller and Jonah Hill in War Dogs – are very much true to life. Packouz was working as a massage therapist before reuniting with his former high school friend and he also went on to sell sheets he bought from textile companies overseas. Meanwhile, Diveroli was shipped off to Los Angeles midway through high school where he sold guns with his uncle – and learned about arms dealing, before partnering with Packouz to do it on a bigger level.

Efraim went on to become a millionaire at 18 years old, using his expertise to outbid larger companies for smaller, more disposable deals. How he acquired his insight into the trade and then used it is all fact – even down to the website the Department of Defense used to post weapon contracts for public auction. Diveroli’s life was shocking in the War Dogs movie, thanks to the conviction of the performance by Don’t Look Up‘s Jonah Hill. Beyond Packouz and Diveroli’s lives in War Dogs, the facts surrounding the government’s involvement in their lives, such as being under pressure to level the playing field after being scrutinized for giving no-bid contracts to big companies, were also accurate. A lot of the subtleties to the characters and stories were well-founded. Details like how the pair both got high before a big meeting with military heads are true and add to the absurdity of it all. Even Ana De Armas’ role as Packouz’s girlfriend Iz was based on a real person, despite some theorists suggesting she was added into the movie for the sake of creating conflict.

Everything War Dogs Makes Up

War Dogs (2016) - Bradley Cooper

While War Dogs does get the essence of its story and characters correct, some creative liberties were taken to embellish certain things – namely, the drama. This is a common practice in onscreen adaptations of true crime stories. One notable difference: Diveroli shooting a gun off after a deal fell through, as seen in the film’s trailer and poster, did not occur. This is, of course, a moment that shows Diveroli’s obsession with money and power, but he wasn’t as reckless in real life. Similarly, none of the action that takes place in War Dogs actually happened either. Packouz and Diveroli did find themselves in precarious situations, but it was mostly from behind a computer screen. Phillips makes their job seem far more dangerous than it ever was to heighten the story. When the pair went abroad, it was for gun shows and the like. They never came under fire for transporting arms and they never even went through Iraq’s infamous Triangle of Death either.

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Another notable moment that didn’t really happen was when Packouz gets kidnapped by Henry Girard, played by Maestro‘s Bradley Cooper. The sequence bookends War Dogs, but it was all fiction. Packouz wasn’t even the point man in Albania (where he gets kidnapped). Cooper’s Girard was also based on a real person, inspired by Swiss Army dealer Henri Thomet. Though Thomet did try to rip them off and was cut from the big deal shortly thereafter as a result, no kidnapping and torturing of any kind occurred. Efraim and David are also said to be around the same age, which isn’t true. At the time they reunited, Efraim was 19 and David was 23.

War Dogs True Story: Where Are They Now?

War Dogs (2016) - Miles Teller and Jonah Hill

What did War Dogs’ Packouz and Diveroli do after the movie’s events, and where are they now? Though War Dogs portrays Packouz and Diveroli as best friends, which they were, the pair have cut ties in the years since their arms operation was shut down. Packouz’s life has changed direction, which recently is partly due to his involvement in the Todd Phillips film. In fact, Teller and Phillips directly consulted with Packouz for the project, which is why so much of the minutia and details are accurate. He even visited the set and attended the film’s premiere, clearly not ashamed of his past and wanting to see this story done right. Now, Packouz works as a musician and has his own company which sells electronic drum kits. This is, of course, when he’s not traveling the world – something he is fond of – or tending to his daughter. His days of gun-running are long behind him.

Efraim Diveroli, on the other hand, is embracing his past in a different way. He wrote a memoir, “Once A Gun Runner,” documenting his life, and he also sued the producers of War Dogs for stealing his story without consent. Notably, unlike most other infamous subjects of true crime story series and movies, both Packouz and Diveroli avoided long prison sentences. After getting charged with fraud and conspiracy, Packouz only received seven months of house arrest for his cooperation, while Diveroli was sentenced to four years in prison – which War Dogs also accurately portrayed. However, where Packouz was more collaborative on the project, Diveroli was anything but. Diveroli had no involvement in War Dogs and discouraged people on social media from seeing it in theaters.

Diveroli was last seeking damages and a cut of profits from War Dogs for making the film. Aside from this, he has a media company named Incarcerated Entertainment, but most of his time is spent in various legal battles, as the Warner Bros. suit isn’t the only entity Diveroli is facing. He was also dealing with accusations from Packouz and their associate Ralph Merrill for holding back millions of dollars in profits.

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David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli’s Net Worth

The net worth of celebrities is always a topic of interest for film and series viewers, and though David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli no longer have access to hundred-million-dollar contract opportunities, they’re still millionaires. Packouz is estimated to have a net worth of around $2.9 million thanks to his music business as well as his involvement in the production of War Dogs. Curiously, there’s less certainty regarding the real net worth of Efraim Diveroli, which could be anywhere between $15 to $25 million. This data is estimated from the apparent success of “Once a Gun Runner” as well as his various business ventures, and the discrepancies between these differing approximations are likely due to his multiple lawsuits.

War Dogs‘ real Packouz and Diveroli are doing pretty well for themselves, all things considered. This is especially true when comparing Packouz and Diveroli’s fates to other high-level criminals with mysterious deaths, lifelong prison sentences, or those still being hunted by the authorities. Neither Packouz nor Diveroli is likely to score multi-million deals with the government anytime soon, but considering how they’re respectively worth around $2.9 and $15 million, it would seem that these former War Dogs are finally playing their cards right.

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