War Dogs

Directed by Todd Phillips
Starring Miles Teller, Jonah Hill and Bradley Cooper
On UK Blu-Ray & DVD December 26th, 2016

by Joanna Orland

Director Todd Phillips finds a cure for his Hangover trilogy with the more dramatic War Dogs, the true story of a pair of arms dealers who are in over their heads and flying by the seat of their pants. The comedy is still to be found in War Dogs, but not to the level of absurdity found in Phillips’ previous films, which also includes the Ben Stiller / Owen Wilson vehicle Starsky & Hutch.

As entertaining as this film is, it never reaches the level of Jonah Hill’s performance as Efraim Diveroli, one half of the pair of real-life arms dealers. Unapologetic, brash, vulgar, swaggering and with the most infectious laugh ever heard on screen, Hill steals this movie away from costar Miles Teller, and even from director Phillips who never makes it as interesting as Hill does.

As Efraim returns to his hometown of Miami, he reacquaints himself with childhood friend David Packouz, played by Miles Teller as the straight man to Hill’s Efraim. Strung together by Teller’s narration, the story unfolds as Efraim brings David into his business of selling arms to the US military. The action speaks for itself and Teller does a fine job of playing his role without the need to hear his character’s inner monologue. The use of narration feels lazy and weakens the film which has a great story at its core – perhaps a tonal shift would have made it a must-watch. As is, it’s primarily Hill’s performance that gives it its weight, while its overall tone leans towards the lighter end of the scale.

Between Hill’s hilariously absurd characterization of Efraim and the light tone, this film is actually rather fun to watch. What is frustrating about it is that it’s neither a hilarious comedy nor a weighty drama, but it sits comfortably in the middle as a wonderfully entertaining movie.





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