I was very lucky to win a double screening pass to go see Todd Phillips new film War Dogs. I saw the trailer at another film a couple of months ago and it reminded me of a 2005 film starring Nicholas Cage and Jared Leto called Lord of War. Phillips’ War Dogs looked like a mix of that and a comedy.
War Dogs is based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan. The story follows these two young twenty year olds from their humble small beginnings chasing smaller contracts (the crumbs) to the bigger contracts(the pie). They eventually are known as War Dogs – which by the definition of the film is – someone who makes money off of war without setting foot on the battlefield. Thats a little line from the movie without being too spoilery.
Todd Phillips has had a foothold in directing comedy films since around 2000. His filmography includes such films as Road Trip (2000), Old School (2003), Starsky & Hutch (2004), The Hangover Trilogy (2009-2013) and Due Date (2010). This would be his first go at a more serious movie. Which I think he did a good job with, there were definitely elements of comedy thrown throughout the movie and it was cleverly written (Surprise! he was a part of the screenplay writing). I thought his transition to making a more dramatic film was an alright one. It wasn’t as horrible as a transition I thought that Adam McKay had when he went from directing roughly every Will Ferrell movie to directing last years The Big Short. I didn’t like that movie at all, and I blamed it on the amateurish direction and editing that occurred in the movie. (but McKay was up for the best director oscar, so i must be missing something right?). But I think Phillips proved that he can not only make a funny film but also a serious and engaging one.
War Dogs stars the one and only Jonah Hill – 21/22 Jump Street (2012/2014), The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013), Superbad (2007), and Moneyball (2011). Two of these roles Wolf of Wall Street and Moneyball also awarded him oscar acting nominations. Hill plays Efraim Diveroli, a loud laughing, arms dealing loveable asshole. It was weird to see him play the more asshole-ish/dick character in a film, he’s always so loveable. But even as a jerk, he’s a little loveable. He stars alongside Miles Teller, whose quickly made a name for himself starring in such films as Whiplash (2014), 21 & Over (2013), Project X (2012), The Divergent Series (2014-2016) and the remake of Footloose (2011). I find it interesting that he’s gone from doing the more sensible teenage flicks, to doing crazy indie music films that are superbly underrated, that win oscars. and now he’s starring next to Jonah Hill in a War comedy. They have really good chemistry together, and I hope that eventually they’re both together in more films. You also get a small role from a Todd Phillips usual, Bradley Cooper who plays a really shady arms dealer. It was interesting to see him play a “badder” guy in a movie, he’s always the eye-candy, loveable, funny guy. But in War Dogs he was the badass, crazy, unnerving Albanian arms dealer.
I need to also give a lot of praise to the cinematography. We jump to a lot of different places in the film and I thought that the cinematography and the filming locations added a lot to the film. It was like they became a supporting role in the film.
It was an eye opening film to me as well, I knew that the military spending was really really high, like multi-billion dollar big. But there was a scene where our Narrator (Teller) starts to break down exactly how much each solider has on them for equipment in American dollars. I don’t know exactly how accurate it was, since its based on true events it would be interesting to google these guys and figure out more about their story.
My only negatives about the film is that the story became a little bit boring in parts, I wanted to check my clock, but the film felt a lot longer than 2 hours. But even when I would start think that, the story would get interesting or turn in an interesting way and it kept on trucking. I also mentioned the directing was good, but not excellent. and finally, the editing was pretty good, but it wasn’t perfect. The pace of the movie was a little obscured in parts.
This film also kinda reminded me of Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain (2013), it was one of those based on true event films that you’re watching and you’re like “Really? this really happened? are you sure?” It was so crazy and so insane that i’m glad that a movie was made off it. Not only is it entertaining, but it is something that actually happened.
I would give War Dogs a 3/5