Hollywood is in the throes of remakes, reboots, novel, and comic book adaptations, and whilst these can be enjoyable, audiences are screaming “tell me a story I don’t already know”.
Occasionally, we’re given a gold nugget, something truly special. Todd Phillips’ War Dogs is just that.
I spend my life waiting for films like this.
Based on the unbelievable true story of David Packouz and Egram Diveroli, a pair of friends from high school who reunite in their early twenties to exploit the United States weapons market. Through a series of complex loopholes and changes in legislation, it is possible for anyone – including two young stoners – to bid on weapons contracts and supply the US military. Just the ins and outs of this procedure are, in themselves, both fascinating and terrifying. Within minutes of the film’s beginning the thinly veiled moral issues with the military’s weapons supply are unmasked. Bankrolled by the owners of a dry cleaners, the pair begin to pick up larger and larger deals, making hundreds of thousands of dollars, and all the while going completely morally bankrupt.
Miles Teller’s Packouz is pretty great, but the real showstopper is without a doubt Jonah Hill. Why we keep referring to him as the fat kid from Superbad is inexplicable when he can pull a dramatic performance like this out of the bag with seemingly relative ease. Hill’s Efram Diveroli is described throughout the course of the film as being manipulative, almost sociopathic, to the point of being able to tell anyone what they want to hear in order to achieve his own ends – and that’s a tough role for any seasoned actor to play. Something with such depth, with layer upon layer of calculating thought processes under an outgoing and charismatic leader-type.
Efram knows what he wants, and he knows how to get it – and Jonah Hill knows just how to play it to perfection. At just the right moments the cracks in Efram’s veneer show, with just the slightest flash behind the eyes or curl of the lip. Even when you trust him – you know you shouldn’t trust him. Rare few actors could have pulled this sort of depth off with such finesse – the film is worth seeing for Hill’s performance alone.
But there’s plenty more to love about War Dogs. It’s utterly gripping, intrinsic and fantastical. The contradiction of the bright white open spaces of the high life and the grimy drizzle of Armenia or the dry terseness of the middle east really open up the spectrum of just how complex this mission became, and just what these guys were willing to do to keep the system rolling.~
We somehow find ourselves rooting for the bad guys (think Catch Me if You Can) and hoping that when they toe the line of immoral and illegal, they manage to land on the right side.
And if this whir of action wasn’t enough, there’s even a treat of Bradley Cooper thrown in, as Henry Girard, a blacklisted arms dealer who uses Packouz and Diveroli as stooges for his own plan.
It’s a thick and juicy waltzer of the high life, business deals, munitions warehouses, war, betrayal, family, and trust.
If you’re looking for just a good, meaty film with significant substance and outstanding performances – this is the one for you.
WAR DOGS IS OUT 26th AUGUST!