War Dogs is a film about two young gentlemen (who partake of the smoke) who started a company to fulfill military weapon/government contracts. Specifically, a $300 million deal to supply an insane amount of AK-47 rounds to the Afghan forces.

The story comes from this article from Rolling Stone author Guy Lawson from 2011.  You can read it here, and try to make the connection of how THAT turned into War Dogs. The article is fantastically written, and gives more a sense of who these guys are/were (during the time) than Jonah Hill and Miles Teller do with Todd Phillips directing. Maybe that’s unfair. There were a few scenes that both characters were relatable, believable, and interesting but the editing and script pacing sort of ruined it.  This NY Times article is pretty great, too.

This is what the REAL “War Dogs” guys look like.

David Packouz (left) and Efraim Diveroli
David Packouz (left) and Efraim Diveroli

And here is Teller and Hill.

Miles Teller and Jonah Hill as David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli
Miles Teller and Jonah Hill as David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli

I really wanted this film to be GOOD, it has the premise to be. Teller is a damn fine actor when the directors and script let him be, Whiplash was a performance of a lifetime from him. Hill….suits this character, meaning his choices make sense in the story.  His laugh however….just when you think Leto’s creeky-door laugh is the worst you’ll hear in a theater this year, you get Hill’s.  Both he and the director talk about it briefly in this interview from the NYC press conference, and I have to say, they don’t do themselves many favors with their tone.

There are moments when the written actions of the Diveroli character make Americans look like dicks.  I get that it’s his CHARACTER, and it’s the point to really drive home that he *IS* a dick…..but there are other ways to make a character unlikeable.

Bradley Cooper’s character makes brief appearances, the silent arms dealer with the connections to the Armenian stockpile that includes the 180 million AK-47 rounds mentioned in the US Government contract. It bears repeating that Cooper is an executive producer on this film.

Something else that seems to be happening more and more often in 2016 films is the use of soundtracks to fill in the GAPING plotholes. Suicide Squad did it, War Dogs does it.  “Let’s play a familiar piece of music because it will automatically make the audience happy, no matter what is happening in the movie!”  Sure, because that’s how that works, right? “Let’s fill in the other moments with drug use! That always works!” Sure, you do you, man.

This film couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a comedy or a very serious drama, and swings wildly (and unconvincingly) between the two points often. Perhaps another pass at the script would’ve solved most of those issues.

SCORE:  4.5 OUT OF 10MAY see again, but not by choice.

War Dogs opens worldwide on Friday, August 19th 2016.

ABOUT >> Mary Anne Butler
  • BIO >> Mary Anne Butler (Mab) is a reporter and photographer from San Francisco California. She is a lifelong geek, huge music nerd, occasionally cosplays at conventions, does Renaissance Faires, and in general lives the life of a True Believer. She may be short, but she makes up for it with a loud voice.
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