It took me a few weeks to catch War Dogs because the trailers didn’t really do much for me. However, I found myself fairly entertained and generally impressed.
Miles Teller stars as David Packouz, a massage therapist who is relatively unhappy (and broke) until he reunites with an old school buddy Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) who introduces David to the world of buying and selling firearms. They’ll do anything to make a buck, including driving a shipment of guns through Iraq and other deals with the U.S. government to sell them cheap firearms and ammo. We also have Kevin Pollak, Ana de Armas, and Bradley Cooper.
While the trailers didn’t really grab me, the movie was actually really good. It reminded me of a remix of The Big Short. It examines something real but makes sure to explain it in layman’s terms, in a way similar to The Big Short. They don’t go as far as breaking the fourth wall and explaining it to you, but there’s an effort to make sure you understand what’s happening. And it’s a fascinating topic, something that most normal people wouldn’t have any idea about.
In terms of execution, it totally works. Both Miles Teller and Jonah Hill give incredible performances, proving again that they’re a notch above other actors that got their starts in raunchy R-rated comedies. Jonah Hill is the standout though, playing the oddly eccentric Efraim, who never quite understands how deep they’ve gotten themselves.
The pacing and structure of the movie is unusual, or maybe unexpected is a better word, but it completely works. In the trailers, what appears to be the climax of the film, is actually about the halfway point and there’s a substantial storyline that follows, that the trailers don’t really get into. It’s smart because I didn’t see it coming.
I also appreciated the small but vital role that Bradley Cooper played. It plays into his charm but it has an edge that we haven’t really seen Cooper dive into yet, at least not that I’ve seen.
What doesn’t work?
The only thing that doesn’t really work is that the movie feels really long. It’s not especially long, clocking it at just under two hours, but the amount of content can be a little draining. It’s a long tale that might have you checking your watch once or twice, surprised at how much story has been stuffed into two hours.
This is a movie that looks into something crazy, something that most people wouldn’t know about, and manages to tell this story to you in a way that is both entertaining yet informative. Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, and Bradley Cooper all give great performances, though the movie has so much story stuffed in that you might become fatigued by the final stretch. This won’t win any big awards but it’s worth a look if nothing else is grabbing your attention.