Based on a true story, Todd Phillips’ biographical comedic drama is both a fascinating and funny look into the lives of two American twenty-somethings and a story about family, treachery and guns. Lots and lots of guns.
 
In 1970, Edwin Starr asked perhaps the most famous and recognisable question in the history of music, “War: what is it good for?”. “Absolutely nothing!” you say screaming into your computer screen? Well, if you happen to be a “War Dog” then you may take exception to that statement. War Dogs sees director Todd Phillips (The Hangover TrilogyDue Date) delve into the dark and dangerous world of international arms dealing and the story of best friends/business partners David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli – both excellently played by Miles Teller (Fantastic Four) and Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street21 Jump Street; 22 Jump Street), respectively – and their dealings with Henri Girard, played by Bradley Cooper (Guardians of the Galaxy; American Hustle).
 
It’s the 2000s. Dissatisfied with his job as a part-time Miami masseuse and expecting his first child with his girlfriend, David Packouz (Teller) attempts (and fails) to make it big selling high-quality bed sheets to residential nursing homes. His fortunes are about to take a drastic turn, however, after he reunites with a childhood friend Efraim Diveroli (Hill), now a successful arms dealer, at a funeral and joins Diveroli’s company AEY Inc. Making more and more money from smaller arms deals, AEY Inc. soon land a huge $300 million contract with the U.S. Government to arm and equip the brand new Afghanistan army. Amidst dodgy dealings with blacklisted arms dealer Henri Girard (Cooper), AEY Inc. come into possession of illegal and sub-standard Chinese ammunition which threatens not only their entire arms deal, but also Packouz and Diveroli’s friendship and their futures.
 
One of this film’s strongest points is its characters. Teller’s narration throughout the movie and his inner conflict with getting involved in these ethically flimsy practices, but doing it to create a better life for his family, makes him a very sympathetic and approachable protagonist for this film. Hill, like his role in The Wolf of Wall Street, offers another stellar performance as the slimy yet loveable jerk; whilst Bradley Cooper’s takes on a more serious tone as Girard. As a comedic venture, what this film offers is very good. Teller and Hill come across as a well-rehearsed double act and bounce off each other so naturally. The jokes themselves are strong and snappy, but not constant and exhausting, and they offer a mix of situational comedy, slapstick and simple, yet effective, juvenile humour. You will laugh at something – guaranteed!
 
War Dogs, however, does have one flaw. It is nothing to do with the jokes or the story. In fact, this issue will likely be entirely subjective and may not even bother you, but it bothered me just a bit and affected how much I could really enjoy the film. As a biographical drama with comedy weaved throughout it, with a great look and with Jonah Hill playing another excellent bad guy, I simply can’t help but compare it to The Wolf of Wall Street – a film that I absolutely adore. War Dogs is a very good movie. But by comparing it to The Wolf of Wall Street I have bestowed upon it an almighty handicap which War Dogs doesn’t deserve. So my advice to anyone who has seen The Wolf of Wall Street and intends to see War Dogs is to not make such a comparison as it’ll only hurt the latter.
 
Films about war are not a new thing. We’ve all seen at least one film that shows the trials and tribulations of soldiers in the face of conflict, particularly in this post-9/11 world. But what War Dogs offers is an insight into what goes on miles away from the battlefield via an immersive story, loads of laughs and great characters. I certainly recommend it.

 

 

Rating – 75%

Director – Todd Phillips

Cast – Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Ana de Armas, Bradley Cooper

Genre – Biography, Comedy, Drama

Running Time – 114 Minutes

Matthew Kirk

Matthew Kirk

Host of 'Maximum RPM' 2014-2017
Winner of 'Radio DJ of the Year' at Oxygen.ie's National Student Media Awards (SMedias) 2017 - three cheers for heavy metal!
For opportunities, please contact: matthew.kirk@queensradio.org
Matthew Kirk