Well if this wasn’t based off a true story I’d call bull – how did two 20-something stoners amass an arms dealing empire that starts grassroots and ends up with American military contracts featuring sums with many commas? I can’t answer that, the movie itself barely does. However, it’s a cool concept regardless that leads War Dogs to be a passable way to kill a few hours.
Directed by Todd Phillips of the Hangover movies fame, he tells the story of David Packouz (Miles Teller) who is a man without a path, but fates intertwine when he re-connects with his old bestie Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) and the two forge a business scavenging the crumbs of weapons tenders that larger defence firms ignore. It’s a clever idea and also a profitable one, and soon David goes from a struggling masseuse with a kid on the way, to driving matching Porches with Efraim and taking a lot of illicit substances. Of course though – nothing comes without consequence.
Sorely out of their depth and in order to satisfy their largest order yet, the boys must travel to Jordan and illegally ferry a truckload of guns into Iraq to the US Army. This sequence is the best in the movie – suspenseful, interesting, action-packed and funny; all with the kicker of knowing that this actually happened. It’s only about the halfway point of the film too; one that eventually feels like it drags on for many hours.
Honestly, this movie could have been better suited as a TV show, so much happens and it’s hard to keep track. A lot of key character moments are skimmed over or rushed to get to the next bit, and if it were a series we could have explored the characters and the process and industry of the guns trade a lot more comprehensively, in a Breaking Bad meets Wolf of Wall Street type dynamic. It would definitely have helped establish the leading men as more likeable too – one of War Dogs‘ biggest flaws.
Overall it’s a fun ride, and the performances of the actors are well delivered (including the sly cameo of Bradley Cooper in a few scenes) the music and atmosphere does capture the ‘rags-to-riches’ vibe but unfortunately it just misses the mark in too many ways. To have a movie that feels both too long and too rushed is a weird ambivalence that in summary would have me rate the film as ‘eh’
Hilariously though, it’s still better than most things currently showing in cinemas.