Known for raunchy adult comedies like Road Trip, Old School and The Hangover franchise, Director Todd Phillips goes the ‘true life’ story route in his outrageous new film War Dogs starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller. Based on the real life duo of David Packouz (Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Hill) of AEY Inc., the film tells the story of a couple of regular guys who unbelievably become major players in the international arms trade. This pairing of old friends is not one that thrives on Patriotism for our country and its soldiers. These two dudes are “War Dogs” looking to profit from conflict without stepping foot on the battlefield.
Even though Brian De Palma’s Scarface is a major influence for the boys with their “get rich quick” schemes on film, Phillips as a director mostly takes his inspirations from Goodfellas with Teller serving as the narrator through this wild journey documenting the rise of AEY Inc. from a couple of guys feeding on the scraps of government contracts to men controlling the fate of the world’s military. The movie’s fast pace takes the boys to the other side of the world in entertaining style as the two clueless bros survive War Zones and shady business deals. It’s a fascinating look at how much money is out there to be made and the reckless nature certain men par take in to fatten their wallets.
Jonah Hill shows off his sleazy side in magnificent fashion as the loose cannon of the team. Efraim exudes slimy charisma that puts a spell over all his clients, business partners and basically anyone he comes into contact with. Hill has a few comical moments, but for the most part he’s the figure of madness who drives War Dogs into dark places. In a movie full of sinister characters looking to capitalize on the business of war, Hill’s depiction of Diveroli stands out and proves once and for all he’s not just a comedic actor.
Teller on the other hand is the straight man to Hill’s con artist capitalist. David serves as the audience’s guide as he goes from a broke licensed masseuse in Miami to an Arms dealer in the Middle East handling the sale of more bullets that you can imagine. Teller shows in War Dogs when given the right material, he’s one of the best young actors in Hollywood. Teller shows incredible chemistry with Hill and their relationship is an intriguing one to examine as it morphs once the money starts rolling in.
The strong acting from Hill and Teller in War Dogs help Phillips gain success stepping out of his comfort zone as a director. The film isn’t perfect with characters like David’s wife Iz played Anna de Armas who turns out to be one-dimensional arm candy. The third act also spins its wheels at times creatively heading into real, but somewhat anti-climatic conclusion. At times you could tell Phillips wanted to go darker with this film, but for some reason showed restraint with his R rating. Still Hill and Teller’s performances make up for the film’s flaws and Phillips still does an admirable job delivering a different product to the audience that is a dark, but fun experience.
Overall, I give War Dogs 3 out of 4 stars.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell