War Dogs: Film Review

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War Dogs is based on two real-life 20-something arms dealers, who were covered in a Rolling Stone article and furthermore a book called the Arms and the Dudes by Guy Lawson. You would never believe their story otherwise – what goes down is nuts and unbelievable but told in a very entertaining way, thanks to the man behind The Hangover movies, Todd Phillips.

David Packouz (Miles Teller) is a massage therapist who is trying to become a businessman by selling bed sheets, which fails. He then meets up with an old high school friend Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), who recruits him for his business – selling weapons to the U.S. military in Afghanistan. They begin with small contracts but bite off more than they can chew when they are awarded a $300 million contract to arm the Afghan Army.

This tries to be The Wolf of Wall Street as it tells the story of bad guys doing really bad things in a funny, light-hearted way. It doesn’t have the fourth wall-breaking piece to cameras but it does have narration by Teller, who explains what happens in an easy way, and title cards which act as chapter headings. The film is funny to begin with, especially when you met Hill’s larger-than-life character, who has a ridiculous laugh, but once the Afghan deal is made, there is very little comedy to be had.

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In the same vein as Wolf, the film doesn’t place much responsibility on these guys. Really bad things go down in Albania and that is glossed over and Packouz is made out to be this good guy who accidentally got mixed up in bad business. However, it is enjoyable and I’m kinda glad there isn’t a massive moral-of-the-story type vibe – we know what they are doing is bad, we don’t need it spelled out.

Hill’s performance is probably the best thing about it – he put on weight, he has this awful tan, awful laugh and he plays someone mean, confident and cut-throat, which is massively different to the nervous guys he usually plays. It was great to see him change it up. Teller also did something different as he usually plays the arrogant dickheads whereas now he’s the audience surrogate, in over his head and overwhelmed. It was refreshing to see. I must also mention Bradley Cooper, who plays this wonderfully shady arms dealer.

War Dogs is an entertaining ride. Not everyone will agree with how the film treats these guys, but it is enjoyable, laugh-out-loud funny in the beginning, dramatic and thrilling at the end and features a fantastic performance from Jonah Hill.

In cinemas now 

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