War Dogs is directed by Todd Phillips and stars Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Ana de Armas, and Bradley Cooper. The film is based on the true story of David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, two young gun dealers who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon.
I was incredibly excited but also nervous for this film. I am a massive fan of both Teller and Hill, but Todd Phillips has never really tackled a dramatic film before, but Adam McKay did that wonderfully last year with The Big Short, so I remained very hopeful.
The two leads in this movie are both solid, with Jonah Hill being more of the standout as Diveroli. Hill is explosive, hysterical, and above all, vastly entertaining to watch from start to finish. Miles Teller is also very good as Packouz. Being more of the straight man to Hill, Teller does a solid job at being understandable given his circumstances, and, while he didn’t get too many chances to truly show his talent, he definitely played the part well.
For the most part, this film is certainly entertaining, bringing quite a bit of humor and enjoyment to concepts that could have otherwise been very boring. This movie feels quite a bit like The Big Short did, that being a comedy director bringing humor and entertainment to a real-life story about corruption. I would not be surprised if Todd Phillips was legitimately inspired by McKay’s exceptional work with that film when making War Dogs, and I think that the similar style is more of a pro than a con.
Bradley Cooper is very good in his supporting role, even though I do wish he was more involved in the plot simply because of how much I enjoyed his scenes.
While it takes a while to pick up when War Dogs is moving, it is moving fast and effectively, and that is most apparent throughout the entire Afghan Deal portion of the film. I won’t spoil what that is, but this is when the movie is at its most interesting, and also at its most grabbing, and I found myself enthralled in all the details involved during this time.
Also, the whole scene from the trailer involving the Triangle of Death is just as good as promised from the trailer.
The problem is that this movie takes quite a bit to start moving. The opening half hour feels pretty uneventful, and there are times throughout the movie where I felt the story slowing down where it didn’t have to, and for a movie that’s trying to accurately blend drama and comedy, these lapses are unneeded.
There is also a ridiculous overuse of narration in this movie, to the point where I was legitimately annoyed by the voice of Miles Teller, who I dearly love. I understand Phillips is pretty new to making a drama, but the audience does not need to be spoon-fed every bit of information, we can be told by character’s actions or by subtle clues or events. Unless you go full Big Short and make the narration funny and insightful, it comes off as very lazy, which is sadly the case quite often in this film.
Have I said this movie is like The Big Short enough? I’m going to say it one more time: this movie feels A LOT like The Big Short, and because it’s not as good as The Big Short, sometimes it just feels like a lesser version of a terrific movie.
War Dogs is, for the most part, a fast moving film with an interesting premise and two solid performances from its leads. I found the story to certainly be interesting enough to merit making a film about it, but the movie doesn’t come without flaws. That being said, War Dogs is a step in the right direction for Todd Phillips, and I had a rather fun time watching it.
What did you think of War Dogs? Comment below with what you thought.