War Dogs | Review

Comedic director Todd Phillips of THE HANGOVER trilogy fame, STARSKY AND HUTCH and DUE DATE is turning his hand to a somewhat more serious film in WAR DOGS. Taking on similar story to the actual good Nicholas Cage movie LORD OF WAR, WAR DOGS looks into the real life story of Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, two young guys who score a U.S. weapons contract. WAR DOGS is out now from the fine folks at Roadshow Films, it is rated M and runs for 114mins. Enjoy Kernel Alistair’s review…….all the best…….JK.

BY ALISTAIR SHIELDS

WAR DOGS Synopsis

WAR DOGS is the story of David Packouz (Miles Teller, WHIPLASH) and Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill, 22 JUMP STREET), a couple of twenty something international arms dealers, who tried to hoodwink the American military.

Set in 2005 down in Miami, Florida, Packouz struggles to make ends meet massaging the wealthy and trying to sell 1,000 thread count Egyptian sheets to retirement homes. When he hears the news of his girlfriend’s pregnancy, David needs a new life plan. In enters the Jordan Belfort Efraim Diveroli, a smooth talking, drug taking, slimeball with a fake tan that would make Donald Trump envious.

And so begins a concerning tale of arms dealing, where no one wins, and Albania gets a showcase. Poor Albania.

 

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Comedy or Drama?

WAR DOGS starts amid a torrent of slick camera shots, engaging visuals and strong acting but is unable to carry momentum throughout the film through its own indecision. The film is impeded by its inability to decide if it is a comedic depiction of a dark tale, or an insightful drama on a true story.

In the beginning, we are told to feel for chief protagonist (and film narrator) David Packouz as he struggles with the everyday woes of an average civilian. Moments of relatable life events are shown on screen as he struggles to get through a day at work, make ends meet, and please his beautiful girlfriend (Ana De Armas) – and one of my new celebrity crushes.

However, these moments of reality are contradicted by the blinding glam of Efraim Diveroli, who spends money on prostitutes, drugs and fast cars like every day is a clearance sale. David soon gets swept up in this gluttony of expenditure, yet every so often has to wake up in the middle of the night to put his new born baby to bed.

The film wants to be the ‘THE WOLF OF WAR STREET’ of drug running, but ends up falling short.

 

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Jonah Hill and Miles Teller got skills

Jonah Hill is the s@$#. I mean, so good. Long gone is the fat kid from SUPERBAD (which was a great role anyway), to be replaced by one of Hollywood’s biggest names, and a blessing to every film he appears in. Going from strength to strength with MONEYBALL, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET and now this, Jonah Hill is here to stay.

Taking on the role of Efraim Diveroli, was Jonah’s excuse to channel his inner Leo, after he saw how much fun he had playing Jordan Belfort. The character is loud, brash, confident and charming – while being as cold as a reptile. The character completely owns the screen with his witty dialogue, large frame and slick back hair. Not to mention the laugh, the laugh of Efraim Diveroli is an art form in itself.

Miles Teller is in a similar boat. From his brilliant performance in WHIPLASH, you can tell Miles has the acting chops required, he just needs the right script/direction. Even in the presence of such a dominating character, like Efraim, David holds his own on the screen, and the two wonderfully play off each other’s energy. It is Mile’s character that we create a connection with, and he does a great job of taking the viewer on his personal journey, while narrating the film itself.

 

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Scarface it is not

Unfortunately, even with the strength of the two lead characters, the film fell a little flat at times. It tried too hard to pay homage to the classic gangster films of old, like SCARFACE (Fun fact, the promotional poster for the film is a spin-off from SCARFACE) and GOODFELLAS, and couldn’t create an identity of its own.  The story got confused, and the viewer with it.

This is a shame, as I think the film had great potential, and the first thirty minutes or so are fantastic. However, when it starts getting deeper into the story, it loses a little of its vibrancy and entertainment.

Mate’s Review (because it was too good not to mention)

“It would have been better if Miles Teller was hotter, or his girlfriend was uglier. I just didn’t find their relationship believable.”

Ed’s Note: Miles Teller is HOT!! 😉 

 

3 Pops

 

 

YOUR REVIEWER:

Kernel Alistair has been and will be a lover of movies from when Marlon Brando first amazed as Stanley Kowalski to the day that we see the 100th Marvel film. They can amaze, excite, incite and ignite the viewer and here’s hoping he can help you find which ones.

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.