War Dogs – Solid, But Not Thrilling – Review

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Courtesy Warner Brothers

Based on the true story (but with tons of stuff thrown in and altered to make it more dramatic), Miles Teller stars as David – a lost soul trying to find his way through the world as he works as a professional masseuse in Miami.

As David begins to realize he needs to start making some real money, his buddy, Efraim (Jonah Hill), blows back into town with an offer he can’t refuse.

Efraim picks up small Pentagon contracts to provide weapons, artillery and more to the forces fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.  However, these small contracts are quite sizable and profitable for his small operation, and he needs a new partner to help pick up more business.

Before you know it, Efraim and David have a growing reputation within the field, and attempt to score the biggest contract they have ever imagined.  To make it work, they enter into highly illegal and dangerous deals with shady characters which could cost them the contract and their lives.

War Dogs has been marketed as some gonzo crazy comedy about arms dealers gallivanting around the Middle East, but it’s more of a drama than that.

Writer/director Todd Phillips and his co-writers want to make War Dogs a deeper movie about betrayal, friendship, some sort of indictment on the military industrial complex and more, but that’s alot to bite off and chew.

Because Phillips is attempting to accomplish so much, he half-succeeds.  The ideas and themes are there.  The general structure of the story is there.  The obvious twists and turns are there.  The whole movie is just there.

War Dogs is a solid movie, but not a thrilling one.

Teller is a serviceable lead actor, but War Dogs doesn’t have those great moments a serviceable lead actor needs to put in an amazing performance.

Hill is strong when Efraim is forced out of his comfort zone and dealing with the stress and enormity of the situation, instead of walking around like the coolest guy on the block.

Both are fine, but a better script full of more energy and better storytelling to help us understand the growing bond among these two.  Without a better establishment of that bond, the climax doesn’t have the emotional punch it needs to grab our attention and make War Dogs an impactful movie.

2waffles_sml2 Waffles (Out of 4)

War Dogs is rated R for language throughout, drug use and some sexual references.