War Dogs review
Funding the military is expensive. We have bases all over the world, each with facilities and housing for those solders. Each solider (over a million of them) is carrying thousands of dollars worth of equipment and weaponry. I bring this up because war may be a travesty, but it’s a business opportunity itself. Several companies are out and about to generate the best material for the armed forces to use, and to do so in an inexpensive way. While I doubt I could ever get into that business (personal morals would prevent me), I can see why gunrunning would seem attractive to those that want the high life.
The subjects within War Dogs are gunrunners, but they’re also very young. Their college aged, which would make their maturity a big question. The good news is that if your smart enough, then age doesn’t matter. What matter’s is how well your know your clientele and the best manner to negotiate with.
The early 2000’s was a period of two wars; the War on Terror in the Middle East and the Invasion of Iraq. Both would obviously require some ammunition. Let’s see how the real life subjects handled these ends in War Dogs.
Starting off in 2005 in Miami, David Packouz (played by Miles Teller) is a guy with little direction. He dropped out of college, has failed in a business selling sheets to retirement homes, and makes a small living as a massage therapist. While attending a funeral for a friend, he spots his middle school buddy Efraim Diveroli (played by Jonah Hill). The two meet up where we find out that the two did bad things in their youth and Efraim’s parents sent him away to work with his uncle’s arms business. Efraim has now returned and tells David about his new business venture…the war.
Despite not agreeing with the war, David comes on board when his girlfriend Iz becomes pregnant. Efraim shows him how they acquire these contracts: the Pentagon has a website a lot like a job search site where they have thousands of listings for businesses to put a bid into. They manage to acquire contracts from Bagdad to Albania where they stay true to their word and become millionaires overnight. As Efriam’s company gets bigger, his greed grows (along with a drug addiction) and tensions rise when David is forced to live in Albania to secure a 30 million deal with a terrorist watch list candidate Henry Girard (played by Bradley Cooper).
The idea of irresponsible people getting into a shady business and rising in that world is nothing new. Scarface did this (and is referenced several times. The Wolf of Wall Street, The Lord of War and Pain & Gain did this. What does War Dogs have to offer that’s new? The movie brings these two guys who are played well by Jonah Hill and Miles Teller. The movie shows that these guys would be smart enough to pull off these government deals by day while going to Miami nightclubs at night.
War Dogs is a nice looking movie. Director Todd Phillips (The Hangover trilogy) has a way of shooting his comedies like thrillers. A lot of that has to do with how he uses lighting. His colorful shooting of Miami becomes brighter once we arrive in the bleaker and greyer Albania.
For his first mature story, Todd Phillips found a good blend of political problems, comedy, and some surprising thrills. What’s lacking is a closer study at the relationship between these two. With what could have been a dramatic look into these two young men is more of a party. At least what they say can be interesting at times.
I’ll give this three and a half machine guns out of five. I can’t say that War Dogs is an intelligent insight into how the government acquires its weaponry, but its still an entertaining look at some smart individuals. This needed a Martin Scorsese like director to really help this take off. I can still have fun with this.