War Dogs – Review

Lord of War meets Wolf of Wall Street. 

Films based around criminals have been popular for decades. Goodfellas, American Gangster, Lord of War, Wolf of Wall Street – all fantastic, all true stories. So it’s no surprise that the story of two 20-somethings becoming international arms dealers is going to be a success. But at the helm is Todd Phillips, director of The Hangover trilogy and Project X. Does he pull it off? Yes, yes he does.

War Dogs tells the story of David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who manage to win a $300 million contract to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan.

It’s a bumpy ride so I won’t ruin anything else for you. But let me tell you, it’s a ride I’d happily take again. The story is massively interesting, seeing how the events unfolded and how they essentially hustled their way up the ranks. Now any story can be interesting, but it needs to be told right – this is where Todd Phillips outdoes himself.

(© – Warner Bros. Pictures)

The film is essentially split into chapters, giving the viewer a bit of breathing room and time to take it all in. A smart move by Phillips, it gives the film a touch of sophistication.

The two leads, Miles Teller and Jonah Hill, are a fantastic pairing, with enough chemistry to be believable ‘best friends’. Teller’s Packouz character isn’t as memorable in comparison to Hill’s Diveroli, which is down to the power of Hill’s performance. Despite all the crooked things he does, you’ll love watching him – that’s what makes a great performance.

(© – Warner Bros. Pictures)

The trailers for War Dogs have made it out to be an over-the-top, buddy comedy. This is certainly not the case. The film has a much slower pace than expected, and although there are a few laughs, it’s new ground for Phillips. It’s a serious, grown up movie that’ll appeal to those outside his usual audience.

War Dogs, like other films that are in the similar ‘rise-and-fall’, ‘chasing the American Dream’ vein makes you route for the scum bags. We watch and hope as they repack ammunition and forge bank statements. These are criminals, and we love them for it. Whilst it may never reach the same heights as Scorcese’s work, it’s a damn good effort.

To sum it up…

If you’re looking for a crude, straight up comedy, then stay away from War Dogs. But for those looking for a political driven crime drama with comedy woven through, this is for you. The story is mind-blowing, and Hill’s performance is a powerhouse, but some questionable pacing and lack of bigger laughs prevent it from reaching true greatness. 

Rating: Crackin

What did you think? Let me know in the comments, tweet @film_swot or check out the Facebook page!

Author: Cameron Frew

Published by

Cameron Frew

Freelance film writer. Words on Flickering Myth, Bloody Disgusting, Movie Corner UK and Jumpcut Online. My five favourite films are: 1. The Goonies 2. Forrest Gump 3. The Shawshank Redemption 4. Warrior 5. Whiplash

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