Guns, guts and glory… BRO!
There’s a fine line between right and wrong, but when money’s involved courtesy of the U.S. Government, sky’s the limit. Lines are beyond blurred and even more when loopholes are discovered. War profiteering has long been a subject-matter full of controversy. It’s been going on for decades, and saw its rise during the Bush Administration’s Iraq War Part 2. Vice President Dick Cheney and his cronies opened up the floodgates and it wasn’t long before the nation caught on. The scope of its end result led to balancing out the playing field, allowing smaller business owners to dip their fingers into the batter of barbarianism with hopes it would keep the masses pleased, while also helping the U.S. economy.
It wasn’t too long before this act was jerked with, leading to two, 20-something weed-heads out of Miami Beach (David Packouz and Efraim Diverolito) to become small-time international arms dealers, leading them to bullshit their way to a $300 million contract with The Pentagon. Exposed in a 2011 article by Rolling Stone magazine (click here), the story was too juicy for Hollywood not to dabble with, hence WAR DOGS starring Jonah Hill (Efraim) and Miles Teller (David).
Aside from Bernie Madoff, this may very well be one of the biggest hustles ever – and it could only happen in America, bro! From director Todd Phillips comes WAR DOGS, his twisted, comedic drama based on the true events that had the world buzzing once this ordeal was exposed. In true Phillips fashion, here’s yet another movie where people are making bad decisions. From past, to present, whether it’s a few post-college guys starting their own frat house (OLD SCHOOL), or four friends planning an ill-fated bachelor party in Vegas (THE HANGOVER), there’s always a string of bizarre occurrences that lead to outrageous results. Bad decision-making is once again the center-piece for WAR DOGS, but there is an edge to the humor. Why, bro? Well, simple, it’s born out of the fact that the film is based on a true story. Making it that much more interesting, engaging, and to an extent fun.
Off the bat, Teller & Hill pull off an interesting portrayal of opportunists. Their chemistry is tight, they bounce off other’s opposing characteristics well, and for the most part keep it lively during moments of misery. As the ugly side of cynical capitalism is exposed, the toll it takes on both characters, especially David who’s married with a child, pulls an exposed thread of continuous disarray, ultimately leading to complete chose. It’s no secret these guys were pinched, but it’s mind-boggling to know the live of luxury they experienced at the hands of such sketchy business. A legal one at that, until greed placed a bind-fold over them. Adding to the joy of this story is Bradley Cooper playing a major bad-ass whose deep in the same business and causes them a bit of uneven footing.
On the flip, aside from unnecessary scenes that didn’t enhance the story much, my other gripe would be having to relate to the characters. Although we can all say we’ve been at the edge of insanity when it comes to scraping for money, this all seemed too easy. There really wasn’t any struggle at first sight that would help me feel for them. Feel their desperation. Understanding why it was done is clear, but there didn’t seem to be any kind of empathetic moments, or build-up. It’s played with when exposing David’s set-backs, as well as Efraim’s reasons, but even then it felt one-dimensional. I can bet the real guys didn’t laugh much, had less confidence, and were way more scared about the whole situation than Hill and Teller played it. However, it’s a film. It’s gotta be overblown and campy. Otherwise, it wouldn’t play out like a Todd Phillips flick, bro.
Overall, it’s not a bad watch. It’s witty, fun, and a thought-provoking situation on what goes on in the world at the hands of those we least expect. Truth be told, as we speak there’s some crazy, unimaginable shit going on as I type this that we’ll all find out about in the next five to ten years. It’ll drop your jaws, you’ll think back to this review’s final paragraph and say, “I remember the great Lee Romero mentioning this exact outcome in his WAR DOGS review.”
Grade: B / Genre: Comedy, Drama, War, Politics / Rated: R / Run Time: 1:30
Starring: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Pollack, Ana de Armas
Directed by: Todd Phillips