War Dogs

War Dogs

(2016)

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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Flicks Review

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


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 7 ratings, 4 reviews
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War dogs was thought provoking and a thriller at times.I loved it.


BY Booper superstar

I am a big Miles Teller fan but thought both his and Jonah's performance was a bit meh. The story was interesting enough but 20 minutes too long. I personally wouldn't watch again but that doesn't mean I didn;t partially enjoy the ride.


BY JackWallace superstar

War Dogs is the best thing Todd Phillips has done since the first Hangover, and his most ambitious film yet. An engrossing and entertaining morality tale about the American Dream, with excellent performances from Miles Teller, Jonah Hill and Bradley Cooper. Phillips is channeling Scorsese. I'd compare this to The Wolf of Wall Street and GoodFellas, but instead of gangsters and corrupt stockbrokers, they're arms dealers. Great soundtrack. The film is surprisingly more dramatic than I thought it... More would be, which is a positive. War Dogs is a bloody good film. Grade: B+Hide


Based on a true story, or rather, based on The Rolling Stone magazine article ‘Arms and the Dudes’, WAR DOGS is the rise and fall tale of two young guys who become arms dealers, make a fortune and then screw up.

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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The Press Reviews

60% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • War Dogs is insufficient with these two characters (or maybe it's these two actors), who are neither hapless and schmucky enough to sustain laughs nor venal enough to get us rooting against them. Full Review

  • With the 'Hangover' trilogy behind him, director Todd Phillips has made his first terrific movie for grown-ups, starring Miles Teller and Jonah Hill in a true-life tale of hip-geek arms dealers. Full Review

  • Fun enough, as late-summer studio comedies go. Full Review

  • War Dogs is an unexpected success. It's an unconventional crime narrative told with biting humour and a flippant attitude that ironically make its critiques even more devastating. Full Review

  • The filmmaking is surprisingly lazy, even listless, stuffed with obvious music cues and unnecessary chapter breaks that merely add to the lurching, episodic rhythm. Full Review

  • War Dogs is a rise-and-fall narrative, and while it's genuinely shocking to see the scale of the military-industrial complex from the actual shop floor, there's not nearly as much condemnation as you might expect. Full Review

  • There's plenty of darkly funny moments, but this is a largely serious movie about an entirely serious subject. Full Review

  • Phillips, also a co-writer on this mishegoss, directed this tired, lumbering, flaccid story of arms-dealing rascals as though hoping to be mistaken for Martin Scorsese - all freeze frames, voice-overs and classic rock. Full Review

  • Might come with a pre-title claiming it is "based on a true story" – and it is – but in much the same way as a Friday night kebab is "based on" a cow. Full Review

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