War Dogs Reviewed
War Dogs is based on the true story of two 20-somethings, David Packouz (Miles Telles) and Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), who won contracts from the Pentagon to arm America's allies in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s. It is absurd to think two young stoners, one of them a high school dropout, could be in charge of arming the U.S. military with next to no experience.
Originally a Rolling Stone article that would become a book that would become this movie, I would’ve loved to see this story done as a documentary, a real-life, unflinching straight-from-the-source examination of what actually happened. But I just don't know about the execution of this fictionalized version. For starters, the movie has tons of unnecessary narration. It opens with David Packouz smoking weed in a beat-up car getting pulled over by a security guard. Do we also need a voice over to tell you that he was smoking a lot of weed and was lost? War Dogs is more successful when it lets the characters’ actions speak for themselves.
Performances by Miles Teller and Jonah Hill continue to impress in the world of young guy dramedies. Jonah Hill has done especially well playing someone who is both a douchebag and perhaps even an anti-hero. His character takes advantage of a corrupt system and is taking money from big corporations, which is something people can always get behind. Much like any anti-hero the lines blur as the story continues, but Hill plays Efraim as disarming. It is hard not to like him at first; from the way he talks to his nerdy laugh, it’s easy to see why his friend David likes him. As the movie goes on and the monetary stakes increases, Hill makes subtle changes to show who Efraim really is.
I knew nothing about War Dogs before going into it and was fascinated throughout the movie, but that still doesn’t make it a great movie. You are probably better off just reading the Rolling Stone article and using your inner monologue to tell the story rather than listen to Miles Teller tell it to you. That doesn’t mean it’s not a movie worth watching, but you can wait for it to come on TV. C+/B-