“War is big business,” an early voiceover in ‘War Dogs’, a movie based on a true story (yeah, one of those), announces.
The movie takes place during the 2000s, when the U.S. was waging a war in Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to nip the terrorism menace in the bud.
And war is precisely how two high school buddies, on whom the movie revolves around, strikes the jackpot. Jonah Hill plays Efraim Diveroli, an ambitious but small-time arms dealer, and Miles Teller stars as David Packouz, a straight, somewhat square character, though one far more sympathetic than Efraim.
The two friends reconnect at a mutual acquaintance’s wedding after not seeing one another for years. When David’s girlfriend Iz (Ana de Armas) announces she is pregnant, David, fearful he wouldn’t be able to provide for his soon-to-be family as a masseur, decides to join up with Efraim as partners in his arms dealing business.
They eventually score a US$300 million contract from the Pentagon to sell 100 million rounds of AK-74 ammunition to the U.S. Army based in Afghanistan.
Of course, these two are getting in over their heads, but they have no idea.
Directed Todd Phillips of ‘The Hangover’fame, ‘War Dogs’is structured with chronological jumps and flash-forwards that clue audiences in as to what to expect for the characters. It’s a weird trick to employ, as a movie this fast-paced is drained of some tension without that constant anticipation of what will happen next.
Still, the movie’s brashly entertaining, rife with gallows humour. It doesn’t succeed in exploring the ideas about honesty and integrity it sometimes raises, but that’s also partly because it tries too hard to refrain from moralising. No one likes a preachy movie.
It’s also more concerned about letting us feel what the characters feel. And that we do, thanks to Jonah Hill’s gutsy, committed performance as a man who gradually unravels from the stress and the lies he tells.And the chemistry between Teller and Hill is terrific, the hijinks of their characters a riot of fun to watch.
'War Dogs' opens 1 September 2016