Written by: Stephen Chin, Todd Philips, Jason Smilovic, Guy Lawson (Article).
Directed by: Todd Phillips.
Starring: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Bradley Cooper.
Running Time: 114 Minutes.
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The true story of two 20-somethings who landed a contract with the Pentagon to equip America’s allies in Afghanistan.
The Triangle of Death
The film opens with a narrative from David Packouz (Miles Teller) explaining the economics involved with war and how he wasn’t always concerned with such issues.
Rewind to three years ago – the year is 2005 and David is working as a masseur in LA for the high and mighty. Drifting from one business idea to the next, he’s struggling to find his place as an entrepreneur, when he runs into his best bud from junior high – Efraim Divorelli (Jonah Hill).
Efraim is a typical prick – moronic, evil and scheming – the ideal entrepreneur. He introduces David to his world of arms dealing with the US government, winning small-time contracts and ‘’feeding on the crumbs’’ as he puts it. David is filled with admiration for him, watching him become whoever his clients wanted him to be. With a baby on the way, David decides to join Efraim’s business venture to make it big.
AEY Inc. (which stood for nothing, literally) started making some big bucks when David happens to meet Henry Girard (Bradley Cooper), an ex-US citizen who was an MVP in the arms market. They strike a deal to supply ammo to the US forces in Afghanistan. Though, not all is merry, as tension builds up and David’s admiration for Efraim slowly turns to hatred.
They manage to make some neat deals as partners, but fail to deal with the power, greed and treachery that came as add-ons.
From the Maker of the Hangover Trilogy, an Attempt at a Real Plot
War Dogs is director Todd Phillips’s (The Hangover trilogy, Old School) first real attempt at a plot with a serious premise. He adds his usual pinch of humor, and it works for the most part. It’s not packed with scenes which make you roll off your chair holding your stomach. It must be admittedly said that Phillips’s product is a confused one, fluttering between genres.
To classify this gig as a failure would be unfair.
The characters are awfully underwritten. At one point, you feel bad for the talent on the screen as there’s only so much one can exploit their character. The film is of the cynical sort, with stereotypes screaming for attention. What it does well is not dwell on the adversities of war or the political melodrama involved, but some would see that as reason enough to remove a star or two from the rating.
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The soundtrack is spot on, much like all the other WB movies of late. Kudos to Cliff Martinez. But on the flipside is the pitiable cinematography and editing. That right there sums up the movie – inconsistency.
Casting: Locked and Loaded
Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now, Divergent) needed a gig of this sort after a string of below average franchise films to prove the point he made with Whiplash. He puts in a good shift but fails to nail it. Jonah Hill (Superbad, 21 Jump Street) is as splendid as ever – transforming from prick bestie to immoral business partner with ease.
But the one who will be most talked about is Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, Burnt) with his cameo as Henry Girard. It was a cameo that stood out and might even be the sole reason for many to watch the film. Other notable performances include Ana de Armas (Hands of Stone) as Iz and Patrick St. Esprit (Draft Day, Super 8) as Captain Santos.
All in All
War Dogs is a roller-coaster flick about insatiability during the quarter life crisis. The genre is yet to have a masterpiece, and it might remain that way for a while. The film does have its fair share of positives. It’s categorically entertaining and it wastes little to no time in giving you the redundant details of its premise. That being said, it could just as easily be the reason it runs out of ammo at the box office.
Watch it if you’re: In the mood for a war comedy OR a big fan of the cast.