War Dogs is the story of two 20-somethings that got a US government contract to supply weapons to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Is it as entertaining as it sounds?
How did a two man company get awarded a $300 million dollar contract to arm the Afghan Army from the US military? Did we mention that the two men were in their early 20’s and one was a high school drop out!
Based on a Rolling Stone article, further expanded upon in Arms and the Dudes, War Dogs is a story so extraordinary it could only be true. But like The Wolf of Wall Street, Pain and Gain, Lord of War, and American Hustle, you do find yourself facing a quandary. Should you really be rooting for characters who are so morally corrupt?
Directed by Todd Phillips, of Hangover & Old School fame, the movie stars Jonah Hill & Miles Teller as the titular War Dogs. Hill & Teller are joined by Bradley Cooper in a glorified cameo appearance.
But what about the movie itself? Well, it’s rather a mixed bag. The plot,although embellished in certain parts, does entertain for the most part. Like Pain & Gain, also based on an unbelievable true story, this movie’s success rest upon the cast.
Hill is great as the sleazy, uncontrollable and volatile Efraim Diveroli. Teller plays David Packouz, a massage therapist who is looking to get his slice of the American dream. Although Teller gets the brunt of the heavy lifting storyline wise, he doesn’t really shine through as much as Hill.
If you have seen any of the trailers then you should have an idea of the story. Teller & Hill’s characters, through luck and governmental outsourcing, manage to get one of the many George Bush era military contracts.
In fact, war dog is a derogatory term used to describe a political and/or military person. One who’s immorally eager to encourage a people or nation to go to war. There’s a great sequence towards the beginning of the movie where Teller explains to the audience where the film’s title comes from.
In it, he breaks down the cost of outfitting a soldier annually. The cost of the weapons, the uniforms, footwear and other various equipment used by the US military. We soon learn that there is a lot of money to be made by companies working within this niche industry.
Teller and Hill, through AEY International, exploit smaller military weapons contracts that the larger companies ignore. The larger contractors would focus on the big contracts while AEY focused on the smaller, less profitable contracts.
Eventually, our “heroes” manage to land one of the biggest military contracts of their careers. We won’t go any further as to avoid spoilers, but suffice to say that this is where our story really kicks into gear.
War Dogs, despite some flaws, is an entertaining movie. Hill is great as the paranoid, drug abusing, and overconfident gun runner. The story is entertaining and keeps you intrigued throughout. Teller is good. He has some way to go to redeem the good will afforded him before Fantastic Four but this is a good start. Although Cooper is only in the movie for a few scenes his character is pivotal to the plot. So I guess he earns his marquee billing. Finally, Todd Phillips eases any worries you might have from his Hangover association. Proving that he can move between comedy, drama, and action with ease.
Come the end of the year this might not be in too many top 10 lists, but that shouldn’t detract you from going to see it. It is simply a good story, told well. Catch it if you can.