War Dogs (spoiler free)

I developed an interest in seeing this movie at the very first viewing of the trailer. Seeing the trailer several more times during our recent trips to our local AMC Theater only increased our desire to see it. The movie shows strengths even before actually seeing it: two young talented actors (Jonah Hill, Miles Teller), a quality director in Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Starsky & Hutch, Old School), and an interesting plot line that is based on true events. Those all added up to some pretty high expectations heading into the showing.

The film plot follows the true stories of David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli and their rise from low level gun deals all the way up to landing a $300 million deal with the Pentagon. David (played by Miles Teller) is trying to provide for a nice life for himself and his girlfriend. He works as a massage therapist and has an idea to sell luxury bed sheets. Efraim (Jonah Hill) is his best friend from childhood who now has a small business dealing weapons to the US government and its allies. As they begin to work together, their jobs and personal lives get more complicated. It kept me drawn in waiting to see what would happen next. There are plenty of tense moments along the way with some humor mixed in to keep it light-hearted. I actually never heard about the true events this movie is based from before seeing the movie. Without having any knowledge of said events before hand, I think that worked in my favor and lead to a more enjoyable film experience because the plot unfolded as the director and authors intended it to unfold.

This movie offers its fair share of strengths. As mentioned before the two young stars really steal the show. Miles Teller does a good job as David, just doing whatever he can to provide for his family. He is likable and believable in that role. He makes it easy to feel what he goes through from scene to scene. He seems authentic, making David’s story feel so much more tangible. Hill turns in a tour de force performance as Efraim. He absolutely nails the role with his personality and style. This role is one of his best in his acting career. The director, Todd Phillips, did a outstanding job overseeing a more serious movie than he is typically known. With his film history, I expected the movie to be a little more aimed at the comedy side, but was very pleased that it was more dramatic. He did work in some funny scenes and dialogue to keep the movie fresh. Several scenes had outstanding cinematography. I do not want to delve too much into the scenes and give anything away just yet but feel free to give a more detailed opinion in the comments below. I also thought it was a nice touch to have the movie broken down into sections with little chapter title cards, if you will, to give us a taste with what may be coming up. It was something that was relatively minor but ended up making this movie stand out among its competition this summer.

The negatives against this movie may not be the biggest ones you’ll find in a summer movie, but they are there nonetheless. It does not avoid the pitfalls of cliche story telling. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything for potential viewers, so I won’t go into too many details. Another negative about this movie is it may not be exactly what viewers expect it to be. The combination of the trailer showing some comedy and the director’s film history can lead people to believe they are seeing a more of a comedy. It definitely has some comedy elements and some humorous scenes but overall it has more of a drama feel. I personally don’t think its a that much of a negative that the movie is more drama than comedy, but it was a little unexpected.

I really enjoyed War Dogs as a whole. I liked the actors, the story, and the cinematography. As it sits right now, War Dogs has the top spot as my favorite movie of the summer. I enthusiastically give this movie only 1 1/2 Apologies and I highly recommend it.

-Movie Apologist