War Dogs – 3 out of 5
When I first saw the trailer to War Dogs I was definitely interested. I’m not really that familiar with the ins and outs of the true story that this is based on but I enjoy quite a few of Todd Phillips’ films and I think both Jonah Hill and Miles Teller are tremendous actors. Finally, the trailer actually made the film look fairly amusing and that it might be a decent comedy that skirts the darker corners and offer up some drama thrown in to boot. Well, I finally got around to seeing it and…I found it to be okay.
|Their future is so bright, they have to wear shades...and also because the|
sun is also very bright.
In 2005, David Packouz (Miles Teller) is struggling to make ends meet as a massage therapist and is basically in a general feeling of malaise. One day he runs into an old friend from school by the name of Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) and learns that he started a company called AEY. Efraim informs him that he’s making great money through AEY by filling government solicitations for weapons in the Iraq war. Packouz joins him and the two go on a wild ride of insane success. The money is substantial but Packouz must keep this position a secret from his girlfriend Iz (Ana de Armas) and soon learns just how dangerous it can be to be a gun runner.
|The only one who can stop a bad guy selling guns is a...um...a good|
guy selling guns?
The story for War Dogs is pretty interesting and there are some amusing moments here and there. Todd Phillips has shown in recent years that he’s fairly good at presenting the darker side of comedies (but never too dark). Additionally, the performances from Miles Teller and Jonah Hill are absolutely fantastic. Teller perfectly captures the guy who is just looking for something to help him through life and is the moral compass of the story and Jonah Hill is very entertaining as the blowhard jerk-ass who is bound to screw everything up. Their styles mesh well together but they are not the problem with the film. The issues that kept this film from really delivering for me involve the conflict not feeling that important and the story gets too boring at times.
|Even wearing nerdy glasses, Bradley Cooper still looks cool.|
There’s no denying that what these two are doing is on the edge of the ethical line (that they even cross over) but never does the film really feel like what you are seeing is truly wrong. Instead, the story feels like it is enjoying the illegal behavior of these two and having fun with what an asshole Efraim is. Even when the eventual comeuppance arrives, it never feels like a lesson is learned or that any of what you just saw was really that bad. Sure, there’s a nice ambiguous moment at the end that makes the viewer wonder if Packouz learned anything from his experience but as far as the actual punishment that the two suffer for their actions ends up feeling like an afterthought. It really harmed any potential stakes this story should have had.
|"Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?"|
War Dogs has its moments here and there. It’s never an outright bad film—especially due to the performances of Teller and Hill—but there never feels like there’s any weight or importance to the crimes and actions the characters perpetrated. Finally, despite it having some cool and slick sequences as Packouz and Diveroli rise to power, the film had a lot of moments that dragged for me and would kick me out of any momentum the story created. In the end, War Dogs just felt like an “meh” movie experience. It’s never too bad but it was never too good either.