War Dogs takes place during a time in American History where our Nation was healing from a terrorist attack on US Soil and the division was at an all time high. The movie starts out in 2008 but quickly flashes back to 2005 when the company is still in it’s infancy. The weapons contract company, known as ‘AEY,’ sold weapons to the US Military and made millions doing it. Todd Phillips, who is best known for directing The Hangover Series, pulled that same lighthearted, comedic style into this movie. The quick, witty one liners, the crazy, over the top situations the characters have to deal with, and most importantly, the plot that all makes sense after it’s over.

David Packouz (Miles Teller) is pulled out of a cars trunk and held at gunpoint in the beginning, a scene which bars no context until later in the film. From that moment on, the movie had my attention. We later learn that David was a massage therapist who is trying to get into a new business venture but ends up failing. During the middle of him putting his life savings into his idea and it failing, a life changing event happens and he’s forced to find other ways to make money.

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Lz and David shopping for a Penthouse Apartment

In comes Efraim Diveroli (Jonnah Hill) who has a plan to make David rich quick. He convinces David to join his arms business by telling him how much he made in the last 30 days; nearly 300k. David eventually joins the company and provides a home for his girlfriend Lz (Ana de Armas). There is only one problem; Lz doesn’t agree with the war. David then lies to his girlfriend about what he is going to do and the movie continues on with the audience knowing how it will end; badly.

David and Efraim filling an order.
David and Efraim filling an order.

What starts out as small arms dealing from a website that Efraim tells David about, turns into a large deal costing multi-millions, ‘The Big One’ according to Efraim. Greed and thirst for money ultimately ends in disaster for these two.

While at a convention for weapons manufactures, they come across an arms dealer named Henry Girard (Bradley Cooper). He ends up being the best and worst thing to happen to these two. In another great role , Bradley Cooper has an exceptional performance.

What’s exceptional about this film is the way they portray Efraim. While the movie develops, it shows absolutely no reason to trust Efraim nor that David should; he does simply because they were childhood friends who reunited at a funeral. David puts all of his eggs into this basket not knowing if Efraim can be trusted or not.

David and Efraim at the shooting range testing out the weapons they're selling.
David and Efraim at the shooting range testing out the weapons they’re selling.

Where the movie somewhat fails is when the arms race becomes serious. They start going for bigger deals yielding more revenue and creating more trouble. Near the middle of the film, the tone shifts suddenly from a fun comedic movie, to a serious drama where live are at stake; including David‘s. The rest of the movie is about trying to figure out the mess they’ve put themselves in instead of finding other small deals to make themselves rich.

While War Dogs is by no means a perfect film, it is fun for what it was; a movie showing how easy it is to screw the government over during the Iraq war. The movie has fun comedic moments, and serious tone that rounds it out. Pushing the envelope for a great story based on truth, Jonnah Hill and Miles Teller are brought together by Todd Phillips in a natural way that doesn’t feel forced.Ultimately, this film is a must watch for 2016 and a surprisingly good movie that came out of nowhere.

Positives:

  • Good Writing
  • Intersting Story
  • Engaging Dialogue
  • Intense Moments

Negatives:

  • Carried on in the middle
  • Sudden Tone Shift

Overall Score: 8.5