Director Todd Phillips has called Jonah Hill’s Character a “Tony Soprano” type but I think it would be more accurate to call him a “Tony Montana” type.
I mean look at the poster – it’s practically the same as Scarface’s poster. In the film Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) has a huge poster of Al Pacino wielding an M16 that can only be titled “Say hello to my little fwiend”.
Look a little deeper and the parallels are equally as visible because War Dogs is a film all about one man’s greed and how his quest for control get’s in the way of friends family and business. I’m actually surprised they didn’t just call it Scarf-face or Warface and have done with it.
That’s probably a little harsh because War Dogs is a much lighter film. For one it doesn’t have people being chainsawed in a bathtub – oops spoiler alert for a 30-year-old film.
War Dogs is actually told through the eyes of David Packouz (Miles Teller). David is rightly fed up with his life as a masseuse to the Miami’s rich and famous who are searching for a happy ending. David bumps into Efraim and get’s whisked up into the arms dealing business.
Right at the start of the film price tags start popping against posing US soldiers and David’s voice-over tells us how lucrative even the smaller items of gear is. This scene sets a tone for a film that will educate the viewer in something important.
When you consider this film is based on the real events of two young men who kind of blagged their way to a $300 million government contract during the Iraq War you’d expect there to be a scathing critique about penny pinching to fund the army or the willingness of government officials to look the other way when it comes to arms dealing. This is not the case.
If you look at Lord of War in comparison you’ll notice how gaping this lack of commentary is within War Dogs but that’s not what the film is about; it’s all about the people.
I was a bit concerned that Miles Teller was going to be damaged goods after the abysmal Fantastic Four but he’s not. He’s actually really engaging in the starring role and perfectly fits the bill as a man who is in over his head and struggling to keep his marriage working.
On the other hand is Jonah Hill. Hill’s most notable trait is a brilliant laugh that sounds like a cross between a nervous chuckle and parrot squeezing out a fart. When he’s not laughing he’s playing someone who pretends to be what everyone else wants him to be.
This character trait gives Hill the opportunity to show his range and keeps you guessing whether you like him or not throughout the film.
One member of the cast I didn’t particularly like was Bradley Cooper. Cooper plays Henry Girard, a legendary arms dealer and an intermediary in the big deal. Cooper seems too clean cut for this role, too suave. The very fact that it was Bradley Cooper took me out of the film and I think this role would be better suited for someone less famous.
Overall War Dogs lacks any important message that will make this a memorable classic. That said, there is room for films to function solely as entertainment, especially when they are fun and well paced like this. To quote Scarface; every dog has his day.
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ That laugh
+ A good slice of entertainment
+ Good range from Jonah Hill
– Bradley Cooper
– Starts like it means to say something. Never says it.
– Unsure how true the events really are