An American dream.
The true story of two men who were contracted by the Pentagon to arm America's allies in Afghanistan. Starring Jonah Hill, Miles Teller and directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover).... More
Two friends in their early twenties living in Miami during the first Iraq War discover and decide to exploit a little-known government initiative that allows small businesses to bid on U.S. Military contracts. Starting small, they begin raking in big money and are living the high life. But the pair gets in over their heads when they land a 300 million dollar deal to arm the Afghan Military — a deal that puts them in business with some very shady people, not the least of which turns out to be the U.S. Government.Hide
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BY Daniel Rutledge Flicks Writer
A growing number of films are easy to group together as post-2010 examinations of the American Dream in practice. They've achieved extraordinary results with examples like The Wolf of Wall St, The Bling Ring, The Big Short and Spring Breakers, and average results with Pain & Gain. ... More
War Dogs hits on the same sweet spot, hits it well, but frustratingly teases a greatness it never quite achieves.
It's a tale about the outrageous immorality of modern capitalism and one young man's struggle to come to terms with his role in it. It's at times giddily exciting, with filmmaker Todd Phillips tapping directly into the dark side of the American psyche, but then patchy storytelling and poor decisions let it down.
The near-relentless soundtrack finds a Scorsese-esque rhythm at times with brilliant uses of Pink Floyd, 50 Cent and Justice, but also suffers cringey, supremely obvious cuts from Aerosmith and Creedence Clearwater Revival, among others. There are plenty of examples of dialogue that are annoyingly obvious, too; characters needlessly spell things out as if Phillips isn't confident the audience is smart enough to understand the film language he uses, which is indeed fairly basic. The Scarface references get so heavy-handed Jonah Hill might as well have been screaming "say hello to my little friend!"
It's a shame, as I for one really dig Phillips' illicit, debauched style of storytelling and War Dogs was an ideal project to apply it to after he got trapped in The Hangover trilogy. Perhaps it's a lack of fine-tuning that means the end result is part-comedy that's never quite funny enough, and part-meaningful true story that's never quite meaningful enough. It's still a fun ride for the most part and a shocking insight into some of the War on Terror's dirty details, but this could have easily been so much more.Hide
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BY JackWallace superstar
BY adamatdramatrain superstar
Directed and co-scripted by Todd Phillips (he of THE HANGOVER trilogy), WAR DOGS races along nicely, but never escapes the confines of seen it all before cliché. Yup, we’ve been here before only better in Andrew Niccol’s LORD OF WAR (Nic Cage as an unscrupulous arms dealer... More growing a conscience), David O. Russell’s THREE KINGS (George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg as soldiers committing a crime and growing a conscience), or even Jason Reitman’s satirical THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (in which Aaron Eckhart and his fellow merchants of death make huge profits from the alcohol, tobacco and firearms industries, before Eckhart grows a conscience).
Jonah Hill is great (and big, and orange-tanned), a natural actor with the impeccable comedic timing he’s displayed in roles from SUPERBAD to MONEYBALL. But Hill’s is an act that needs a foil, as with Channing Tatum in 21 JUMP STREET, or Leo DiCaprio in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. Here he’s teamed with Miles Teller, from the great WHIPLASH, and the godawful FANTASTIC FOUR. Next to Hill, Teller fades, coming across as an actor desperate to be taken seriously, and trying so hard you can see all the effort, which prevents him from being believable as a struggling entrepreneur, husband, father or real dude with real world problems.
It’s not a bad movie by any means. Entertaining, fast moving and often amusing, but never moving or surprising or genuinely involving. It’s like that Johnny Depp movie, BLOW, an entertaining but forgettable movie, forever in the shadow of Scorsese’s GOODFELLAS. Or, um, that Johnny Depp movie, BLACK MASS, an entertaining but forgettable movie, forever in the shadow of Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED.
Here the shadow is largely cast by LORD OF WAR, and DOGS OF WAR never feels original, daring or bold enough to go its own way. It tries to be outrageous, but never really lets Hill off the leash. Even though Hill’s office is dominated by a huge picture of Al Pacino in SCARFACE, covered in coke and blasting away with his “leeedle friend”, Hill may get to fire a couple of machine guns, but he’s never allowed to go full Tony Montana.
Sure, WAR DOGS tries to yank at the heartstrings and involve you in the emotional life of Teller’s character, but it doesn’t spend time building and earning our investment, beyond the two-dimensional realm of a weakly sketched pregnant-wife-kept-in-the-dark-back-home-in-a-multi-million-dollar-apartment. As a satire, it never hits home because (a) we just don’t care for these guys, and (b) two dudes making millions out of selling misery required a director with way more imagination than Phillips displays.
For me at least WAR DOGS amounts to a movie that’s not a million miles away from Michael Bay’s PAIN & GAIN – a big, glossy, fun, distasteful but pretty entertaining tale of two idiots trying to grab the American Dream by the neck and choke out a fast buck. Much like Hill’s bilss whilst firing a machine gun, it’s a movie that’s a loud, fast and thrilling experience, nothing new, but a blast while it lasts.Hide
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