The film’s verdict
Director Todd Phillips is an old hand at telling stories about blokes behaving badly, but with this film he drops the ball. The aim, evidently, was to combine the brash style of American Hustle film with the cynicism of Lord of War film. But by copying the voiceover from Hustle, the blanket-bombing approach to music and the obvious retro score, Phillips just comes across as lazy in the War Dogs film.
It’s a pity, because this is a very good story for a film: a tale about a couple of opportunists scoring million-dollar deals. They go through the most dangerous places in the world as they venture with a style that could easily make the film be a compelling, stylish thriller. War Dogs is a very entertaining film, but it doesn’t get many stars for originality.
In this film, Jonah Hill is foul – all swagger, sweat and unapologetic sexism – in War Dogs, that for a good amount of time, you don’t realise what an amazing performance he delivers. He did a lot of work beforehand and bulked up considerably for the role in War Dogs. He plays Efraim Diveroli, one half of a real-life pair of school friends in their twenties from Miami. They made millions by selling dodgy supplies to the US military. He looks like a knucklehead stuffed with testosterone and reckless ambition. His distinctive laugh has a combination of neediness and mania that makes it chillingly effective. The force of Hill’s tremendous War Dogs performance, plus the chemistry with co-star Miles Teller, carries the film from a cliché to a quality film.
David Pakouz is a massage therapist living in Miami, Florida with his girlfriend Iz. He eventually joins forces with Efraim, before getting involved in his company set up which involved the dodgy transactions between themselves and the military. Miles Teller matches Jonah’s brilliant acting as they display their chemistry splendidly throughout the film.