Thoroughly entertaining, yet lacking.
Based on a true story, War Dogs (set in 2005) is an entertaining tale about two men David Packouz (Miles Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) who make a score off of buying and selling arms to the U.S Military.
In a small summary (which the film does explain well) the government had to allow the option to deal guns through small businesses as well as the larger ones which they mainly deal with. This meant that Efraim and David could bid on contract from the Pentagon to arm the U.S allies in Afghanistan and do it as cheap as they could by trading with people and places the U.S normally couldn’t. In doing so, the two men manage to win a big $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan which leads them on a dangerous road of betrayal, forging documents and a lot more dodgy dealings all for a very big pay day.
The film is very entertaining with the many dangerous or illegal situations David and Efraim find themselves in, as well as the sneaky ways the find to worm out of them, and there are a few very funny moments to boot.
However, you can’t shake the feeling that the director (Todd Phillips) could have done so much more with such a great plot, but the film feels very familiar. It takes a lot from films like American Hustle with a mixture of the ‘lads’ behaving badly films that Todd is known for (The Hangover, Old School) that it just feels a bit lazy. On top of this, the voiceover narration feels unnecessary and the music choice is fairly lazy too, just trying to hit on the ‘retro music in film’ trend without much need for it.
The overall plot is entertaining but if it were not for the two performances of Teller and Hill I feel the film wouldn’t be as good as it is. Speaking of Jonah Hill, his performance is excellent and the most memorable part of the film. He’s fully committed to his testosterone filled, manic, manipulating character that he even manipulates the audience. It’s difficult not to like him yet it’s difficult not to hate him. Efraim is such a horrible and manipulating guy but he’s also very funny and entertaining. Combined with Miles Teller, who is very much the straight man of the comic duo, there’s some very nice chemistry and the two certainly carry the film very well.
In summary, it’s a funny, entertaining and fairly easy watch, but don’t expect to be blown away or too much originality.