Movie, Reviews

“War Dogs”, Making Easy Cash the Hard Way

POSTER WARD DOGS 2

 

Billed as a comedy with drama and based on a true story, War Dogs takes you into the world of selling guns during wartime. The film delves into profit making from the military and the risks the gun sellers take for chances of making millions. While a lot of Hollywood goes into the film, it does happen and it did happen this way, mostly. What adds high entertainment value to the movie comes from the acting by two of America’s better actors, Oscar nominated Jonah Hill and rising star Miles Teller.

Stuck in a dead-end job as a massage therapist, David Packouz (Miles Teller) has been eking out an existence in Miami Beach. Getting a lot of pressure from his adoring wife Iz (Ana de Armas), he finds himself not wanting to make her unhappy and dissatisfied.  Enter high school friend Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) who has been buying and selling guns on the internet. He’s been looking for the chance to make a deal of a lifetime, but it has eluded him.

ANDREI FINTI as Yili Pinari,  JONAH HILL as Efraim and MILES TELLER as David
ANDREI FINTI as Yili Pinari, JONAH HILL as Efraim and MILES TELLER as David

It’s 2008 and the US Government has changed its policy on who can sell guns to the Pentagon for the war effort in the Middle East, yet it takes a miracle to make a big score. Picking up just pittance from the government’s list doesn’t bode well with Efraim and when he runs into David the timing happens to be right for the perfect score. The deal he comes across is a tricky one and can deliver a lot of danger, especially having to work with known terrorist Henry Girard (Bradley Cooper).

JONAH HILL as Efraim, MILES TELLER as David and BRADLEY COOPER as Henry Girard
JONAH HILL as Efraim, MILES TELLER as David and BRADLEY COOPER as Henry Girard

So begins a chancy stab at making millions of dollars by running illegal bullets from a Middle East country to an American base in Afghanistan. The story spools out at a quick pace and the intro above is only the beginning of what director and screenwriter Todd Phillips brings to the screen. The situations are funny because it’s about the impossible and the true experience that the two partners live as they face in some cases certain death.

Working with two of the most likable actors in recent years, Phillips puts Hill and Teller into one incredible situation that leads to another. I like Jonah Hill in a role like this, it’s much like his Donnie Azoff character in Wolf of Wall Street where he’s a loose cannon. He’s a non-stop dynamo here as Efraim trying to close the biggest deal of his life. But, there’s more that meets the eye with this eager and pushy character he plays in War Dogs, especially since it’s hard to root for someone who makes money on war.

JONAH HILL as Efraim and MILES TELLER as David look at the millions of dollars in cash wrapped in clear wrap on pallets in WAR DOGS
JONAH HILL as Efraim and MILES TELLER as David look at the millions of dollars in cash wrapped in clear wrap on pallets in WAR DOGS

Playing opposite Hill is fast rising start Miles Teller who was astonishing in his breakout film Whiplash. He may not be as determined as he was as the drummer who would not give up in that film, but he gives his all here haplessly putting his David character in a position that could end his life. What makes his performance especially good is the chemistry between Teller and Hill. It’s so good, it makes the unbelievable, believable.

War Dogs has been rated R by the MPAA for language throughout, drug use and some sexual references. Although touted in part as a comedy, the seriousness of the plot comes across clear that war can be a bitter pill to swallow, especially when trying to profit as a supplier of death.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good production and well-acted movie. (B)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Ana de Armas, Kevin Pollak, Shaun Toub, Steve Lantz, Gregg Weiner, Bradley Cooper
Directed and written by: Todd Phillips
Genre: Drama, Comedy, War
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, drug use and some sexual references
Running Time: 1 hr. 54 min.
Release Date: August 19, 2016
Distributed by: Warner Bros.

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 12 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com