War Dogs (4 stars)

War Dogs

Excellent performances from Miles Teller and Jonah Hill bring genuine laughs to this arms-dealing comedy

On paper, director Todd Phillips reuniting with Bradley Cooper in a real-life tale of international arms dealers might sound like The Hangover with guns. But War Dogs has more in common with Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street – and not just because Jonah Hill takes co-lead. A tale of money, fast-living and the rotten apple-core of the American Dream, War Dogs has the same amoral attitude as Scorsese's film to those who profit from illegalities.

Voiceover comes courtesy of David Packouz (Miles Teller), a Miami massage therapist who hooks up with old school friend Efraim Diveroli (Hill) after years apart. Efraim is now a low-level arms trader, and it doesn't take long before he invites David to join him. With a blown-up still of Scarface hanging in his office, Efraim is a coke-snorting liability, who thinks nothing of pulling out an automatic weapon from his car when he gets stiffed on a $300 weed deal.

Desperate for money and with a baby on the way, David overlooks his friend's hand-grenade personality and, soon enough, the two are trading a truck-load of Berettas with the US army, a deal with requires them to unwittingly drive the shipment through Fallujah and the so-called 'Triangle of Death' to Baghdad. But when that insanity nets them $600k, these chancers can't resist the opportunity to become major players.

With Cooper featuring as fellow dealer Henry Girard – a man so notorious he's on a terrorist watch-list – War Dogs is frenetic, foul-mouthed and frequently hilarious. Credit Hill and Teller – both utterly watchable here – and Phillips, who paces the film to perfection, for conjuring a wholly absorbing story of betrayal and greed, even if it's clear they're all a little too in love with these modern-day cowboys. You'll probably love it, then feel guilty for doing so.

General release from Fri 26 Aug.

War Dogs

  • 4 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 1h 54min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Todd Phillips
  • Cast: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Ana de Armas, Bradley Cooper
  • UK release: 26 August 2016

Miami massage therapist David (Teller) hooks up with old schoolfriend Efraim (Hill), and the pair go into arms trading. Frenetic, foul-mouthed and frequently hilarious, and loosely based on a true story; Hill and Teller are utterly watchable, even if it's clear that the filmmakers are a little too in love with them.