Remember the fat kid in Superbad who was trying to get laid and swearing every half second? The one named Jonah Hill. He’s all grown up now: fatter, richer and making bigger and better movies. Jonah Hill is known for being the fat funny sidekick, a role he plays very well – but what is often under appreciated is that he too can carry a film as the main character. In War Dogs, he plays the true story of Efraim Diveroli, who along with Miles Teller as David Packouz become arms dealers for the United States military, earning money, respect, and a ton of enemies along the way.
This movie is a look into a world where guns are sold like candy, one where anyone outside the USA will find strange and morally disconcerting. Guns blazing, bombs exploding, with a good pair of shades and a healthy layer of adipose tissue – this is the American way. The pair find no qualms in arming thousands of soldiers with a million ways to blow off an Iraqi’s head – because after all in the years after 9/11, anything is justified in the name of freedom and USA, USA, USA! But as these childhood friends delve deeper into this world they get themselves entangled in shadier and shadier business. While Diveroli has no qualms about scamming the next man in line for a quick buck, Packouz has to balance his morals against the millions of dollars he stands to make with each deal.
War Dogs feels like the product of a marriage between Wolf of Wall Street and Hangover. Vulgar, hilarious, and full of quirky characters that you can’t help but want to mimic. While on paper it sounds like a nice blend, it’s missing the charm of either of these movies. Those movies benefited from a unique style that people will remember for years. War Dogs is good, but will soon be forgotten amongst the flood of movies coming in this year.
War Dogs does benefit though from the acting chops of their main characters. Jonah Hill as mentioned before does an excellent job, displaying both the comedic flair that he’s famous for and his not often seen ability for drama and seriousness. Miles Teller unfortunately to me will always have his name tainted with the turd storm that is Fant4stic, but in this case he makes a good argument for his redemption. Bradley Cooper unusually plays for him plays a subdued, quiet man, not quite the womaniser that we are used to seeing. But nevertheless he was an excellent addition and driver to the plot. The movie also makes use of interesting title cards that foreshadow events during the movie which gives a nice touch of suspense with each passing chapter of the story unfolding.
In the end though, it must be said that War Dogs is a movie that feels too much like others and not enough like itself. A movie like this is what I like to call a ‘comedic truth’ type of movies. It’s based on a true story that is retold in a humorous but informative way. Such movies include The Big Short, The Wolf of Wall Street, and the soon to be released The Informants. They live and die based on both the characters and the style through which they are told. Though War Dogs scores big with the cast, its style is not unique enough to ever leave a bang for its buck.