The wholly irreverent, veteran-fueled, zombie killing adventure ‘Range 15’ hit Los Angeles last week – and We Are The Mighty was invited to the party. WATM host Weston Scott ripped off his sleeves and dove into the fun with the guys of Article 15 and Ranger Up, taking over Ye Rustic Inn before taking over the red carpet at the Vista Theater in Hollywood.
Enjoy this look behind the scenes of “the most decorated movie of all times” (as Ranger Up!’s Nick Palmisciano puts it).
Accurate Chinese snipers, the brutal cold, and a lack of food were just some of the rough aspects allied forces faced while occupying the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea.
As the grunts moved into the frozen grounds of their defensive positions, every two men received a case of hand grenades, extra ammunition, and an encouraging hand shake from a superior officer as he passed through.
As the Marines dug into their icy fighting holes, they knew they needed to hold the line at all costs.
Once the Chinese assault commenced, thousands of enemy troops appeared over the top of the hill and dashed down the ravine toward the thin line of armed Marines who began to pull every trigger in their limited arsenal.
“I was standing right there looking at a thousand damn men just going, ‘Oh my God we’re in it,'” one retired Marine recalls. “You knew when you fired your rifle you were killing somebody.
Soon after, the outnumbering Chinese Army made their way toward the wall of Marines manning the front lines and an all out hand-to-hand brawl initiated.
The Marines pulled their knives from their sheaths and started to cut down the enemy force.
“I shoved my Ka-Bar straight through, and it came out the back of his neck,” another retired Marine emotionally explains. “He naturally squirted blood all over me, and the blood burned my eyes.”
After the first wave of attack, the Marines cleaned the blood from their faces and eyes with the cold snow that surrounded them. They quickly proceeded to an embankment near a stream to reorganize themselves and form a perimeter, protecting one another.
The injured Marines had expended most of their hand grenades and ammunition, but they still managed to hold the line. No enemy combatant made it through.
Troy Nunley was 17 years old when he left the farm and joined the Navy. He was assigned to the USS Indianapolis (CA 35), and as he stood on the pier at Mare Island he couldn’t believe any man-made thing could be so massive.
“I’d never seen a tractor that big,” he says.
The recollections of Nunley and over a hundred others are the main thread of “The USS Indianapolis: The Legacy Project,” a documentary directed and produced by Sara Vladic who spent over ten years putting it together. Her choice to let the surviving crew members tell their own story has resulted in a powerful film, one that tells the story of a star-crossed surface combatant while also capturing the timeless themes of survival, courage, and the fight to set the record straight on behalf of the man who led them.
(Photo: U.S. Navy Historical Center)
The Indianapolis was very active in the early years of World War II, fighting in campaigns across the Pacific Ocean, from the Aleutian Islands and Iwo Jima where the ship was close enough to see what was going on ashore.
“They said they’re raising the flag, and I said big deal and walked away,” says Adolfo Celaya, who was a fireman’s apprentice aboard the big battle cruiser. “How did I know it was going to be famous?”
At Okinawa the Indianapolis’ luck ran out. After shooting dozens of Japanese kamikazes out of the sky, one got through and hit the ship on the fantail. The airplane’s bomb knifed through several levels until it exploded in the engine room, killing nine members of the crew and injuring 30 others. The ship was forced to limp back to San Francisco for repairs, sailing the entire leg of the journey with a 17-degree list.
As the ship was being repaired at Mare Island, the crew was given 30 days of leave, and when it was over many of them returned fearing what the next leg of their deployment might bring.
“The last day I was home my mother was sitting on the front porch, and she said, ‘I know something’s wrong. You don’t act like yourself,” Cleatus LeBow says. “And I said, ‘I’m dreading going back this time.”
The Indianapolis stopped by Hunter’s Point on the way out to sea and picked up a large crate that was heavily guarded and bolted to the passageway outside of the commanding officer’s cabin. Rumors started to fly among the crew about what the mysterious cargo might be.
Lebow says his guesses were, “Cadillac for MacArthur or whiskey for everybody to sell at the end of the war.”
“The best scuttlebutt I heard was that we were carrying was that we had 20,000 rolls of scented toilet paper for Douglas MacArthur,” adds Paul Murphy, who was a third class petty officer at the time.
As the Indianapolis sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the senior enlisted men turned to Buck Gibson and said, “Look at that bridge good. A lot of us will never see it again.”
The ship transited the Pacific at a record pace, averaging 29.5 knots between San Francisco and Tinian.
“There was more gold braid on that pier that I’ve ever seen before,” Clarence Hershberger says.
After unloading its mystery cargo, the Indianapolis headed west across the Philippine Sea for Leyte. The ship was sailing solo in spite of the fact that, as Hershberger says, “It is stated many times in Navy manuals that our ship our size must have a destroyer escort.”
At midnight on July 30, 1945, the Indianapolis was hit by several torpedoes fired from a lurking Japanese submarine. The first one sliced the bow off; the second ignited the aviation gas stores, causing many of the sailors to burn to death. The ship sank in 12 minutes.
“I had only been on the ship for 13 days,” Donald Blum remembers.
The crew spent five days and nights in the water, fighting thirst, sun, and sharks. Some men succumbed to madness and swam for a mirage only to drown or be attacked by sharks. Some drank seawater and died of dehydration.
On the fourth day, a lone PV-1 spotted the survivors. From that point forward, the pilot, Lt. Chuck Gwynn, would be known to them as “our angel.”
Another pilot landed a PBY seaplane and loaded 56 men aboard, including laying them across the top of the wing. Ships started arriving in the area, shining searchlights, which hazarded them in potentially enemy sub-infested waters but raised the spirits of the survivors.
The survivors were loaded aboard the rescue vessels, and only then — after the oil-soaked men identified the ship that they were attached to — did the rest of the fleet realize that the Indianapolis had been sunk. Of the 1,197 men who went into the water, only 317 were pulled out of the water alive.
In time, the survivors were taken to Guam to convalesce. In mid-August, one of the nurses showed a group of them a newspaper with the headline that the bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. The mystery of their cargo was finally solved.
But their trial wasn’t over, literally. That fall the Indianapolis commanding officer, Capt. Charles McVeigh, was court-martialed for “failure to zigzag” and for waiting too long to give the order to “abandon ship.” In a wild twist of fate, the Navy called the commander of the Japanese submarine, Mochitsura Hashimoto, to testify.
Hashimoto said that zigzagging wouldn’t have saved the Indianapolis, but the court found McVeigh guilty anyway. Admiral Chester Nimitz later remitted his sentence, but the court of public opinion never did. McVeigh — harboring great guilt for those lost under his command — shot himself on his front lawn, holding a toy sailor in his other hand. He was 70 years old.
The remaining survivors, always of a mind that their skipper got a raw deal from the Navy, kept pushing for legislation that would clear his name. The finally found a champion in Cdr. Bill Toti, the CO of the new USS Indianapolis, a nuclear submarine. Toti invited the survivors to join him at the commissioning ceremony for his sub, and after sitting down with them and realizing their enduring love and respect for their skipper, he led an effort to get the Navy to exonerate Capt. McVeigh’s record. President Clinton signed the resolution in 2000, 55 years after the Indianapolis went to the bottom of the Pacific.
(Editor’s note: Sara Vladic won “Best Female Director” honors at this year’s GI Film Festival that was just held in the Washington, DC area. For more on “The Legacy Project” go here.)
Imagine a Michigan student spending a semester at Ohio State. Or a UT student going to Oklahoma University. Getting sent to a rival should would be intense – and that’s exactly what Army and Navy have been doing for decades.
Every year, juniors at West Point and the Naval Academy switch places, spending an entire semester in enemy territory. Before they go back to their respective institutions, they go through the “prisoner exchange” at the annual Army-Navy Game.
Rivalries exist between all branches of the military – and college students are no different. The Army-Navy rivalry is so intense because it’s so old, but like all those other rivalries, it’s all in good fun. At the end of the day, the Cadets and Mids are still U.S. troops and we all fight on the same team.
That doesn’t mean they don’t get to have fun. The “Prisoner Exchange” is a time-honored tradition – one of many.
As for the differences between the academies, Cadet Tyrus Jones said it’s all about academy culture.
“Life is different because everything is centered around the Navy,” Jones told Army Public Affairs. “It’s a little bit of a different lifestyle and culture between the two services. It has to do with our history and how it’s evolved over the years.”
The Arleigh Burke class of guided-missile destroyers is huge – and they are some of the most powerful ships in the world.
These 9,000-ton ships are armed with a five-inch gun, two Mk 41 vertical-launch systems (with 90 to 96 cells), two triple 324mm torpedo tubes, and a 20mm Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System. Some even carry two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.
But sometimes, the firepower ain’t the solution. Far from it, in some cases. Say the Iranians are up to their usual… antics. That is when the destroyer will need to move.
The ship can go fast – over 30 knots, thanks to her gas turbine propulsion. She also can turn – and for a ship this big, she turns on a dime.
Do those turns matter? You bet they can. The fast turn can help avoid one of those “fast attack craft” the Iranians use. If a torpedo is fired, the turn can also buy time once the ship’s AN/SLQ-25 Nixie goes off.
Torpedo seekers do not have a long range, so the turn at high speed can allow the ship to escape an attack.
You can see the destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) make one of these high-speed turns in this video below. Making such a turn does take practice – mostly because if the gear ain’t stowed right, there is likely to be one hell of a mess. But a mess to clean up is much better than a torpedo hit.
The submarine thriller “Hunter Killer” (out now on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital) had a long and complicated journey from book to screen.
Based on the novel “Firing Point” by Navy veteran George Wallace and Don Keith, the Gerard Butler movie was days away from beginning production when Relativity Studios shut down.
After a delay, new director Donovan Marsh joined the project. They regrouped with Summit and made a movie with extensive support from the Pentagon, which envisioned the film as a “Top Gun” for submariners.
Gerard plays Capt. Joe Glass, a maverick who is given command of a sub even though he didn’t go to Annapolis. The Russian president gets kidnapped, and Glass must break the rules to save the world.
Hunter Killer (2018 Movie) Final Trailer – Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Common
“Hunter Killer” features an impressive cast that includes Gary Oldman, Common, Linda Cardellini, Toby Stephens and Michael Nyqvist from the original Swedish Lisbeth Salander/Millennium movies
Marsh made the well-regarded South African crime thriller “Avenged,” but “Hunter Killer” is his first big Hollywood movie. He told us about working with the Pentagon, how much of the movie was shot on real submarines, and how you make an action movie on a submarine.
You’re from South Africa, a country not known for its Navy. Did you have an interest in military movies or history growing up?
South Africa has two diesel submarines, but only crew for one. One is in dry dock, and they can’t afford to take the other one out. So if I couldn’t love my own Navy, I could love the navies of the movies. Enter “Das Boot,” “Crimson Tide” and “Hunt for Red October.” Three of my favorite films of all time.
Gerard Butler worked on this movie as a producer for many years before it got made. Tell us how you came on board as the director.
The film had a different director and was months from shooting with Relativity. When Relativity came apart, the film was looking for a new home and a new director. I pitched and won the job. When I came on board, Gerard, Oldman and Common were already part of the project.
The Pentagon has been unusually supportive of your “Hunter Killer,” even hosting a press conference with Gerard Butler. What was it like working with the Navy on the movie? Did they have input into the filming since they gave your production so much access to Navy subs?
The Navy was incredible. They welcomed us in Pearl Harbor, sent myself and Gerry out on a real nuclear sub for three days, and showed us behind the scenes in the way that few civilians ever get to see. They gave us access to Navy experts, captains and admirals every step of the way, many of whom were present during filming and who made sure we stayed as realistic as was dramatically possible (and without giving away anything classified!).
The submariners want to know. How much filming did you get to do on real submarines and how much did you recreate on sets?
I had one day in the USS Texas with the real crew They were amazing; I challenge you to pick them out from the actors. I had one afternoon with the Texas at sea for helicopter shots. We nearly crashed the chopper (metal in the transmission!), had to return the next morning to shoot the emergency blow. I had one take and only knew the point they were going to surface within 100 hundred meters. They surfaced in the edge of shot and I quickly reframed!
Michael Nyqvist and Gerard Butler star in “Hunter Killer.”
What roles did practical and CGI effects play in your production?
We had 900+ visual effects shots that took over a year to complete. It was the biggest challenge of my life, and I still feel they could have been much better. To simulate reality is very difficult, and only the most skilled VFX teams with months and months of time can do it.
A submarine commander once told me, “The Army plays rugby. I play chess.” How do you approach a battle movie when you’ve got to depend more on suspense than brute action?
I just flat out prefer suspense to brute action. It’s more interesting. It’s delicious. It’s dramatic. During brute action scenes, I always end up looking at my watch. I wanted HK to create as much tension and suspense as the audience could bear and then release that with action that was quick, sharp and believable.
Gary Oldman, Linda Cardellini and Common in “Hunter Killer.”
Even though the movie portrays American and Russian presidents who are nothing like the real leaders, “Hunter Killer” portrays a contentious relationship between the two countries that didn’t exist even five years ago. Did rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia help you get this movie made?
Tensions between the U.S. and Russian escalated leading up to this film, significantly adding to its relevance. A Russian MiG buzzed a destroyer, and Russian sub activity in American waters and vice versa was on the rise. This played in wonderfully to the plot of the film, which starts with two subs getting into it under the ice.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
The main trailer for ‘Dunkirk’ is out, and it seems that Christopher Nolan will be telling the amazing story of Operation Dynamo from all angles as weekend sailors, Royal Air Force pilots, nurses, fishermen, and others appear in the footage.
Operation Dynamo, often called “The Miracle at Dunkirk,” was the evacuation of nearly 400,000 British and allied troops from the coast of France in 1940 after the German blitzkrieg cut through Allied defenses much faster than anyone anticipated.
The German invasion was expected to take months, but Nazi forces slashed a corridor through France to the English Channel in just over two weeks before they halted their advance. But the Nazis hadn’t been stopped by force of arms.
Rather, the high command decided that they didn’t want to risk panzers in pitched fighting near Dunkirk. So the German army kept the expeditionary force pinned down on the beach and sent the Luftwaffe to kill British ships in the English channel and strafe and bomb survivors on the beaches.
On May 26, the British launched Operation Dynamo, a Hail Mary attempt to rescue those dying troops through Royal Navy assets and, when those proved to be too few, hundreds of small fishing and pleasure boats piloted by civilians. Nearly 340,000 troops were evacuated from May 26 to June 4.
Previous trailers for Nolan’s movie about the event have focused on the plight of soldiers on the beach who waited for days, sometimes in shoulder-deep water while under fire from the Luftwaffe, for rescue. The new trailer shows them, but it also spends a lot of time on a father crossing the channel with his sons, as well as the nurses and pilots who made the mission possible.
It looks like World War II buffs may get to see one of the war’s most miraculous moments played out on the screen through perspectives of everyone who made it possible. Many of the troops rescued from the beaches went on to fight in North Africa, the D-Day landings, and on to Berlin.
We sometimes overlook the accurate and fantastic portrayals of veterans and troops in fiction, instead criticizing Hollywood’s typical depiction of us as hyper-macho, high-speed ass-kicking machines or broken and fragile husks of human beings.
For a good portion of the armed services, this is far from the truth. This isn’t a grunt versus POG (Person Other than Grunt) thing. It’s a symptom of the civilian-military divide.
There seems to be a perpetual cycle of fiction blowing real military service out of proportion. Civilians who never interacted with service members often believe that fictional portrayal.
Let’s be honest. Veterans are combating the stigma, but it’s an uphill battle.
Hell, most of the stories we tell at bars aren’t helping.
This one goes out to the creators, writers, directors, and actors that gave the world a veteran and stayed away from the stigma. Either intentionally or not, these characters either embody what it was truly like in the service or have exceptional moments that can overlook some of the more silly moments.
If you can think of any others left out, leave them in the comment section.
1. Sgt. Bill Dauterive – “King of the Hill”
Though the 022 MOS doesn’t exist anymore, Bill from “King of the Hill” was a U.S. Army Barber. There are several episodes dedicated to his military service. The 2007 episode “Bill, Bulk and the Body Buddies” even revolved around him trying to get in shape to pass his APFT.
How he manages to go on all the adventures in the show and not be considered AWOL is also a plot point.
2. Capt. Frank Castle, aka “The Punisher” – Marvel Comics
Not every superhero gets their powers from a science experiment, being an alien, or just being super rich.
Frank Castle, The Punisher, learned his skills in the Marine Corps. Sure. He’s an extreme representation of a veteran. But The Punisher earns his spot on this list because of Jon Bernthal’s monologue in Season 2 of “Daredevil.” His performance and his story about his return from a deployment hits close to home for many people.
3. King Robert Baratheon – A Song of Fire and Ice, “Game of Thrones”
Let’s take away medieval fantasy elements of “Game of Thrones” and recognize that Robert Baratheon used to be a proud, respected, and feared soldier on the front lines.
Ever since putting his service behind him, he got fat, grew a glorious beard, spent his time drinking, hunting, and talking about his glory days. Sound like anyone you know from your old unit?
4. Pfc. Donny Novitski and his band — “Bandstand”
A Tony Award winning musical may seem an unlikely place to find a true to life depiction of a WWII veteran, but it’s the only Broadway musical with an official “Got Your 6” certification.
The musical is about a group of young vets returning home who form a band to try to reach stardom (the same half thought out plan we all had while we were downrange).
The lead character, Donny, spends most of the story showing his bandmates and the world their sacrifice and talents.
Veterans who’ve seen the show praise it. At the end of every show, they thank the troops around the world and dedicate each performance to a different veteran.
5. Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce – “M*A*S*H”
The Capt. Hawkeye character is beloved by many for its accuracy. He was drafted right after his medical residency to deploy to the Korean War. Everything about his character was a fresh change to the ordinary war hero cliche.
He resented the Army for drafting him. Each loss of life affected him as the series progressed. He used humor to help cope with the daily stress of combat.
In the 1978 episode “Commander Pierce,” Hawkeye is temporarily in charge of the 4077th. For one episode, he drastically made the very real change to become the leader that his soldiers needed before reverting back to fit the semi-episodic formula.
6. Capt. Kathryn Janeway – “Star Trek: Voyager”
While on the topic of the burdens of leadership, the character that best exemplifies this is the commander of the USS Voyager. Many of the ongoing struggles in the series revolve around how Capt. Kathryn Janeway deals with the safety of the crew, the dream of returning home, and hiding her internal doubt.
Oh, and she always drinks coffee, and she always drinks it black.
The senile grandpa of the Simpson family is often the butt of many jokes. His long term memory is hazy and his short term memory isn’t any better.
But then there’s the 1996 “Flying Hellfish” episode. Art and story-wise, this episode is vastly different from most, and is regarded as one of the best in the series.
Grandpa Abe and Bart go on an adventure to reclaim the treasure Abe found back in World War II. Back in the day, Grandpa was a very competent and tactful leader.
When his unit, which also included series antagonist Mr. Burns, discover a fortune in stolen Nazi paintings, they place a life bet on who keeps them.
While Mr. Burns is willing to kill for the prize, Abe still holds onto his honor and loyalty to his unit after all those years. At the end, when the paintings are confiscated by police, Abe tells his grandson why he went after the paintings. “It was to show you that I wasn’t always a pathetic old kook,” he said.
8. Sgt. Donald Duck – Disney
The sailor suit he always wears isn’t just for show or stolen valor, Donald Duck legitimately was in the Navy and Army Air Force (hence why, in 1984, he was officially given the rank of sergeant and discharge by the real world Army on his 50th anniversary).
Hear me out on this.
In World War I, Walt Disney attempted to join the U.S. Army but was rejected for being too young. He then forged documents to join the Red Cross.
In France, the cartoons he sketched grabbed the attention of Stars and Stripes, later becoming the icon we all know today. In WWII, his love of country and understanding of how propaganda worked lead Disney to use Donald Duck to help the troops.
The “Buck Sergeant Duck” was used in counter-propoganda cartoons and recruitment shorts, even winning an Oscar for “Der Feuhrer’s Face.”
His time in both the Army and Navy is well depicted in many forms — from cartoons to comics. In “DuckTales,” Donald leaves his nephews because he’s being shipped out, which starts the series. The cartoon “Donald Gets Drafted” shows Donald learning (in an exaggerated manner) that recruiters sometimes tell fibs to get bodies in the door.
Even his short temper, aggression, loud voice, cynical attitude, and unprovoked tantrums aren’t a concept lost on veterans.
Marine Corps legend Gen. James Mattis sat down to answer questions about his 40 years of military service with the USMC news service, and his replies should be essential viewing.
He shares personal anecdotes, like how a SAW gunner displayed what is great about the Marine Corps after Mattis was forced to pull him from Fallujah, or why he walked to the opposite side of Camp Rhino in Afghanistan when mortars started coming in during a battle in 2001.
(In true Mad Dog fashion, it turns out that he had walked to that side of the perimeter because he thought there was a good chance of another, potentially larger fight on that side.)
He also reveals that his knifehand can kill enemies within hundreds of miles.
The general describes ways to become a better leader, how to become a better Marine, and what to do to become a better warfighter. It’s a long video, but the entire 16:36 is worthy of your time.
For decades, Hollywood has been making military-based films that have touched Americans with great characters and stunning imagery. Not every movie has a high budget, but it’s the attention to detail that veterans respect when their branch is accurately represented on the big screen.
But still, some filmmakers get it wrong. So here’s a simple list of flaws that can be easily avoided when making your next epic war movie.
1. Screwing Up Rank
In 2005’s “Jarhead” based on the book by former Marine Sniper Anthony Swofford, Dave Fowler is labeled as a private first class, or Pfc., who’s wearing the rank insignia of a lance corporal. The majority of the population overlooks details like this, but those who are familiar with Marine Corps rank probably did a double take.
2. Empty Weapons That Will Shoot
If 1997’s G.I. Jane wasn’t a stretch in reality then neither was seeing this gunship with empty rocket pods heading into battle. Next time, just film the inbound attack helicopters from the side. The note behind the note: we notice when movie weapons are handled incorrectly.
3. Uncover… 2!
Sure, Hollywood is familiar with military uniforms and how to wear them. The unwritten rule once was to not advertise how to properly decorate and wear service and dress uniforms in case the knowledge falls into the wrong hands.
But that’s not the case today. And with uniform regs fully available online, filmmakers have no excuse when they get it wrong.
According to Marine Corps dress regulation, the dress blue uniform hardcover should be snug fitting and be worn parallel to the deck. Lastly, don’t forget to shave. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere in the world, but not on your face.
4. Poppin’ An Epic Hand Salute
Steven Seagal plays Chief Casey Ryback, a decorated Navy SEAL who specializes in explosives, weapons, and counter-terrorism turned culinary specialist but finds it challenging to render a proper salute. Takes notes:
Stand up straight.
Snap your salute up and stop once your fingertips touch the outside edge of your eyebrow, keeping your fingers straight.
Position your forearm at a 45-degree angle and upper arm parallel to the deck.
Angle your hand inward towards your body.
Refrain from looking constipated.
5. Questionable Tactics
Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 war epic “Full Metal Jacket” is one of our all-time faves, but not for its accuracy in combat maneuvering. You don’t have to be a veteran to notice how dangerous running out in front of a barrage of cyclic gunfire can be and unrealistic.
Known for his attention to detail, Kubrick dropped the ball on getting the detail right in this shot as Doc Jay (played by Jon Stafford) crosses from left to right in front of a potentially bad friendly fire situation to save his comrade.
War Dogs, BZ Entertainment, Green Hat Films, Icon Films IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2005151/?ref_=tt_mv_close.
Two childhood friends take advantage of a loophole in the way the U.S. military puts out its contracts and become international arms dealers. Yet, it’s the crazy true story on which the movie War Dogs is based. Add to that the stellar performances of co-leads Jonah Hill and Miles Teller and you get a dark comedy veterans and civilians alike can crack a beer and watch together.
1. Bromance with guns
Inspired by the improbable adventures of Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz (who has a cameo singing “Who fears the Reaper” in the retirement home scene), the movie addresses a mostly comedic tone on a very serious subject: international arms trafficking. Although some people criticized the comical treatment of the subject, the minimization of the US government’s part in the story. What better way to get people interested in a serious and controversial topic than by giving them a good laugh?
With sleek action, a rocking soundtrack and well-crafted dialogues, the movie offers to take the viewers through the rollicking adventures of two Miami pals living the high life. Drugs, guns and accompanied by women with a shaky morale compass? They’re borderline CIA material at this point. Yet, by and by, the promised buddy comedy turns into an indictment of unrestrained capitalism, human greed and the Administration that led to the war in Iraq. War Dogs is a dark comedy that pelts you with laughs and insights into the heart of human depravation with the same enthusiasm and leaves you with a smile on your face reciting, ‘Fallujah bad!’
2. Veterans would not have made the same mistakes
After all, how can two regular guys without any particular qualifications become suppliers on multi-million dollar contracts for the most powerful military in the world? What devil did they bargain with to become such wealthy international arms dealers? Can any shred of morality survive in this business? Also, how do we get in on that? Asking for a friend.
Jonah Hill and Miles Teller each deliver a Terminal Lance-like performance in their respective roles. Hill, playing a bloated, cocaine-using Efraim Diveroli (Hill gained 44 pounds for the part), reprises a role somewhat similar to his part in The Wolf of Wall Street. He’s equally sleazy, callous and convincing in both roles. As the more naïve Packouz, Teller is almost innocent enough to be touching. The characters are a charismatic scumbag and a gullible, yet loyal friend who get in over their heads. Neither were evil masterminds. Albania, a Communist country for a long time, made 80% of its trade with China. That fact alone would have alerted more clever businessmen about the dangers of dealing with communists. It takes a special mindset to accept to exchange one’s integrity and morality for money.
3. Its a commentary on unchecked capitalism
That mindset is the one fostered and encouraged by unbridled capitalism. As Diveroli says: “God bless Dick Cheney’s America!” How many young Americans are taught that it’s all about making money, no matter the cost? That everything can be accepted and forgiven if it’s in the name of profit? In the same vein as The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short, War Dogs uses dark comedy to denounce massive moral failings in the modern capitalist society. It makes us laugh about a profound and disturbing truth. Maybe it’s a laugh to avoid crying.
That’s why War Dogs is the best civilian war movie. Its narrative is sleek and its story is almost too incredible to be true. The talented leads make the characters convincing, touching, absolutely un-relatable, flawed and funny, yet it is difficult to really hate them without seeing them as products of a broken environment. Its light premises lead to a mordant analysis of politics and corruption in the early 2000s. It gives enough laughs and action scenes to make the pill easier to swallow. Especially when your buddy says “I was in Fallujah,” and sh*t you not, he has pictures. It’s an uncomfortably entertaining movie that sits between the private and public sector of the war.
When Isoroku Yamamoto warned that Japan had no chance to win World War II, he famously cited America’s industrial might. One of the biggest areas where that strength came into play was with the automotive industry.
As this video by Fiat Chrysler shows, the automakers did step up big when World War II hit. One notable example not covered in the video is that most of the Avengers were not built by Grumman, they were built by General Motors (and thus, they were called TBMs, as opposed to the TBF for the Grumman-built versions). GM also built a lot of Wildcats as the FM and FM-2.
Chrysler, though, was very good at building tanks. First the M3 Lee (or Grant) was rolling off the assembly lines — in some cases before the factory was completely built! The Grant was eventually replaced by the M4 Sherman. They also built lots of trucks — including the half-ton and three-quarter-ton trucks that were ubiquitous in the military.
This video notes that Chrysler was responsible for about 25 percent of America’s tank production — more than all the tank production of Nazi Germany. What is also notable is that many designs that came to Chrysler were improved by its engineers.
Check out the five-minute video from FCA America that explains the U.S. automakers’ amazing role in supplying the troops in World War II.
According to a report by the New York Post, the troops have taken to calling their new helmets “Boba Fett” helmets, after the famous bounty hunter who first appeared in “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980. The helmets are already used by special operations personnel in the United States, including Navy SEALs and Delta Force.
The new helmets feature protection against a number of small arms rounds (up to Dirty Harry’s favorite, the .44 Magnum), infra-red goggles for night operations, communications technology, and a GPS system that can project a map for the operator.
However, the helmets in question aren’t new — or at least, they had been widely used in a very different sector than the military. According to PopularAirsoft.com, the Ronin had been a highly sought-after mask used by people involved in Airsoft, an action sport in which participants use guns that fire 6mm BBs made of hard plastic at speed of 350 to 500 feet per second. The guns in question are replicas of actual firearms like the M9 pistol and M4 carbine.
Best left unsaid is just what happened to Boba Fett in “Return of the Jedi.” Hopefully, special operations troops will fare better than the most famous bounty hunter in the Star Wars movies. I mean, taken out by a blind guy is a pretty embarrassing way to go.