- James Mottram
- 22 August 2016
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.