Dubbed The Stoner Arms Dealers by Rolling Stone magazine, War Dogs is the tale of said stoners, Efraim Diveroli (Hill) and his childhood buddy David Packouz (Teller) as the enter and rise the ranks of the arms trade.
While sitting through the first half of War Dogs, I had to look down at my notes to see if Scorsese himself had a producing credit or something. But then again, if you’re going to be influenced, why not be influenced by the master himself! This is Goodfellas meets Wolf of Wall Street with some sprinkles of Scarface thrown in.
We’re introduced to Miles Teller’s David, a mild mannered but frustrated masseuse who’s trying to make it big by selling bedcovers on the side to old people’s homes. You can imagine how that works out for him.
At a funeral, he runs into his childhood friend Efraim, he’s flashy, he’s brash and he sells guns for a living. Efraim is larger than life, knowing how to make an entrance, get VIP tables at bars, there’s also this underlying darkness that seems it will pop out at any moment.
However what makes the movie other than its soundtrack are the two’s chemistry. You believe that Teller and Hill were high school buddies, you believe they care for each other and are heading into shark territory once they hit the big time.
Make no mistake there is a lot of exposition to get through so Philips handles that with prolonged voiceovers and smash cut editing. If done badly it can be tedious but here it flows well and is actually needed since there’s a lot of legal jargon that needs to be explained as well. Put simply, arms dealing is big business in America.
The film is also cut into segments, each one beginning with a black screen and a quote from a character which will be said at some point. Not sure if this added anything but wasn’t a bad touch after all.
Now as usual, the film is based on a true story, how much of what we see is true is up for debate but with the talent involved, it becomes a fun and tense ride throughout.
Thanks to its numerous influences and talented cast, War Dogs is highly enjoyable from start to finish. From all out laughs to white knuckle tension all in one film, this shouldn’t be missed.
Director: Todd Phillips
Starring: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Ana de Armas, Bradley Cooper
Release Date: 26th August 2016