War Dogs: Funny, Engaging, But Just a Little Too Safe
Jonah HillMiles Teller
Action & AdventureComedy...
In 1 Cinema
The tricky topic that is the economy of war sits at the center of War Dogs; a movie which does well to balance comedy with the grim subject of its source material. Todd Phillip’s script offers an entertaining and engaging ride which, although not always on the mark, manages to hit a few high notes along the way.
Based on Guy Lawson’s biographical book, Arms and the Dudes, the story is set in 2005 and is told through the eyes of one David Packouz (Teller); a twenty-something year-old who works as a massage therapist in Miami Beach. Desperate to earn a bit more money, David runs into his old pal from junior-high, Efraim Diveroli (Hill); a flouncing firearms dealer and the founder of AEY Inc. who makes his money by bidding on U.S military contracts.
After learning that his girlfriend, Iz (De Armas) is expecting, David finds himself under pressure to provide and accepts an offer to work with Efraim at the company. It’s not long before business starts booming with the duo making more money than they’d ever dreamed possible. Things go even bigger when they come across a once-in-a-lifetime-deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars, which soon finds the boys dealing with something that they were not prepared for.
The influence of directors such as Scorsese –The Wolf of Wall Street springs to mind only safer – and Brian De Palma can be felt throughout the production which spends most of its time trying to balance out the drama with the director’s signature bro-comedy humor seen in movies such as the Hangover and Due Date. For what it’s worth, the balancing act ends up working in, provides an easygoing rhythm to the story which keeps the suspense up and your eyes glued to the screen.
Visually speaking, War Dogs is pleasing to the eye with cinematographer, Lawrence Sher, embracing the various settings – everywhere from the murky streets of Albania, to the sun-kissed beaches of Miami – with enough authenticity, while the seventies soundtrack fits nicely into the mix.
Unfortunately, there are a few hiccups along the way including a rushed ending and a distinct lack of character development for the side players. Luckily, the chemistry between Teller and Hill carries the lot through, with the former coming off a little weak in comparison with the latter’s scene-stealing performance of a man who is not so easy to love.
Intriguing and funny, War Dogs makes for an entertaining watch and while the good definitely outweighs the bad, it’s not as outrageous as one would have hoped and plays it a little safe when considering the subject matter.