Tony's Take

WAR DOGS review

War Dogs posterHustling Their Way to the American Dream

The following is based on a true story.  “War Dogs”, the latest effort from Todd Phillips, follows the lives of David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli in Miami during the mid-2000s.  David is working as a licensed massage therapist, massaging rich old people for seventy-five dollars an hour.  At a funeral for one of their friends, David sees Efraim (his old best friend) for the first time in a while and he is faced with an incredible opportunity.  Efraim is running his own corporation, AEY, in-which he bids on Government arms contracts that the big league businesses ignore.  After needing little convincing, David joins AEY and he and Efraim start their business partnership.  After making a few deals and taking some major risks, they meet a big name in their business as they are attempting to fill a massive order; worth over 300 million dollars.  Attempting to make more than 10 million dollars each, David and Efraim begin to run into major problems but, little do they know, that could be the very least of the worries.

Miles Teller stars as David Packouz, a young man who works as a massage therapist until he runs-into his old best friend.  Jonah Hill stars as Efraim Diveroli, David’s young friend and the founder of AEY.  Teller and Hill share an excellent chemistry, each injecting their own particular strength of comedy.  Ana de Armas plays David’s beautiful wife, Isabel.  J.B. Blanc plays the driver in Albania, Bashkim.  Bradley Cooper has a small but powerful role as a fellow arms dealer, Henry Girard.  Eddie Jimison has a brief appearance as a manager at a nursing home.  Kevin Pollack is AEY’s (unknowing) financial provider, Ralph Slutzky.  Shaun Tomb plays a Jordanian man named Marlboro.  Patrick St. Espirit plays an American Army Captain named Captain Philip Santos.

“War Dogs” is incredibly dark and wickedly-hilarious, filled with a number of offensive jokes and remarks; Phillips along with Hill and Teller have struck gold!  While watching “War Dogs”, filled with countless Scarface mentions and posters, you’ll start to realize this feels like a modern day “Scarface” and “Goodfellas”; minus the Italian connection:  Teller as a young Henry Hill and Hill as a young Tony Montana.  Hill and Teller both capitalize on the opportunity, participating in a number of “badass” sequences that will be remembered for a long time.  Hill is phenomenal, showcasing his range with a maniacal laugh and plenty of psychotic and sociopathic tendencies.  Teller’s character David has a little-less of an arc, but it is still fun to watch him as the second-in-command struggling through life.  However, it’s what Phillips does with his characters that makes the film such a success.  Simultaneously showing David’s humanity and Efraim’s sociopathic inhibitions, giving more depth to each scene and to each character as the story unfolds.  As with all of Todd Phillips’ films, “War Dogs” has an impressive soundtrack; featuring such hits as: “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, “Sweet Emotion”, “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head”, and countless others.  Each song fits the scene scarily-well, adding another layer to the dark humor.  I did not know much of this story before seeing “War Dogs” (as I was a sophomore in High School during this time) and I must say, that even though some of this story is added for theatrical effect, it’s incredible what these two young kids not only imagined, but actually pulled off!  “War Dogs” has a run time of 114 minutes and keeps you constantly entertained from start to finish!  Todd Phillips (“Road Trip”, “Old School”, and “The Hangover” Trilogy) has given us some fun and very entertaining films throughout his career so-far, but “War Dogs” is by far his deepest and most-complete offering; and I can’t wait to see what he does next!

“War Dogs” portrays the unbelievable true story of two young men who captured the American Dream, by selling weapons to the Pentagon.  The film features endless dark humor, strong performances, and a great soundtrack to accompany the incredibly-fun scenes!  If you are heading to the movies this weekend, go see “War Dogs”!!

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WAR DOGS is rated R for language throughout, drug use and some sexual references, in theaters AUGUST 19TH!


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