Ammo, arms dealers, cash, and war. Does it seem like selling guns is the right career goal of the American dream? I don’t know. They kind of make it look fun in this. War Dogs is in the realm of those types of movies that are based on a true story where our main protagonist find a way to make easy cash in possibly the illegality way possible.
Based on the Rolling Stone article, “Arms and the Dudes” by Guy Lawson, this is the true story of two 20-something arms dealers, David Packouz (Miles Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) who landed the deal of a lifetime as they become arms dealers to the U.S. government. They are the middlemen of cashing in on guns during the Iraq war. Negotiations, politics, and deals in different countries? What could go wrong?
Co-writer and director Todd Phillips is really a hit-or-miss nowadays. He tried to do something with The Hangover Trilogy but only one movie out of it was actually funny and great. So going into War Dogs, I had no expectation about how it will turn out. This made it look like it’s a cross between Pain and Gain meets Lord of War. And for the most part, I got that vibe.
Jonah Hill as Efraim Diveroli is like Donnie Azoff from The Wolf of Wall Street turned up by 10. To be honest, his character is played off too unlikable throughout. And I know that he was gonna be a dick the whole time, but he doesn’t change. I wouldn’t say this is one of his best performances, to be honest. But he was still good in the role. Miles Teller surprising played the straight man as someone who wants to provide for his family. Their chemistry together did work in some cases so I’ll give the film credit.
These characters had to face impossible tasks to get what they need. For instance, they have to drive from Beretta to Baghdad. Some of the scenes said were fictionalized just for the film, which is sometimes a problem for true stories movies. Either it needs to happen just to make a scene thrilling or just because it’ll be more interesting.
Bradley Cooper isn’t in the movie enough but the screen time he’s has, he wasn’t that bad. Could’ve been in it more. And his character was a bit scary.
Sometimes, Phillips and the other writers go too Goodfellas with some of the scenes even with Teller narrating. Not to say that the film isn’t like Goodfellas, but it was trying to be so hard. It tried to pull into how the war was turning out when Bush was President. But let’s face it. It’s Bush’s fault. What was a surprise when thinking about this, nobody really got shot. By the way, this was a competently directed film.
Even when it’s over, still can’t tell if this was supposed to be a comedy or not. ‘Cause when I heard that Phillips was attached to direct this, it seemed odd for him to do a film like this. Because there wasn’t really any laughs but it felt more of a crime drama after the first act ended. So tone wise, needed to be better.
In the end, the energy is here and there with a story like this. However, this could’ve been a lot more exciting. Make fast money, face the consequences.
War Dogs pulls solid performances from both Hill and Teller, respectively, but this true story wasn’t as interesting as it sounds to be.