Honestly, this movie looks like it’s going to bother me.
Alright, so let’s dive into the cast. Miles Teller… I’m indifferent toward. I never saw WHIPLASH (2014), but I hear he was extraordinary in it. But then again, you also have movies like the Divergent series and FANT4STIC under his belt, which I did see, with little else of note to his resume. I feel like he could be a good actor if given the right stuff, but I haven’t seen it yet. And then there’s his co-star, Jonah Hill. Hill is not my favorite actor. Generally speaking, none of his movies ever appealed to me. Or if there is a movie that he’s in that I like (WOLF OF WALL STREET, the How to Train Your Dragon movies, and 22 JUMP STREET), he’s usually not the reason why I like it. At best, he’s always been serviceable. At worst, his characters annoy the living piss out of me. He’s always playing semi-racist, foul-mouthed, smack-talking characters, and I’m sick of it. That’s why I really want to watch MONEYBALL because it looks like he’s doing something different. But whatever. The other cast member that I saw that looked to be prominent would be Bradley Cooper. Once again, hit or miss for me. I liked him enough in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013), but I didn’t care for him in movies like JOY (2015), BURNT (2015), or THE HANGOVER (2009).
But let’s look at behind the scenes, shall we? Directing and co-writing is Todd Phillips. Now my fears are coming together. He directed all three Hangover films. I know the first one is popular, but I haven’t met the man who liked the other two. Beyond that, he’s only ever done lame comedies like OLD SCHOOL (2003), ROAD TRIP (2000), and SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS (2006). Not excited. The writing team isn’t filling me up with confidence either. Co-writing alongside Phillips is Stephen Chin and Jason Smilovic. Chin has only one other writing credit to his name (according to IMDb), and that was ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE (1998). Yeah, it’s been nearly twenty years since he’s written anything. And Smilovic’s most recent projects were TV bombs MY OWN WORST ENEMY and the rebooted BIONIC WOMAN, which I remember being canceled halfway through it’s pilot season.
Yeah, so unless this movie is a “lightning in a bottle” sort of deal, I’m going in with incredibly low expectations. I mean, the story looks like it’s going to be a standard comedy, but somehow throwing in assault rifles will make it stand out. Well, as I take a shot of Captain Morgan, let’s hope that truly is the case. This is my honest opinion of WAR DOGS.
Based on a true story. David Packouz (Miles Teller) was once a massage therapist who made a decent living, had a beautiful wife named Iz (Ana de Armas), overall, living a good life. However, he’s kind of sick of his job and yearns for something else. After quitting he throws all of his life savings into selling top-of-the-line bed-sheets to the elderly. This fails horribly. However, he attends a funeral and gets reacquainted with his old junior high friend, Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), whom tells David that he’s a gun-runner working for the U.S. government. They start hanging out more and eventually Iz reveals that she’s pregnant. Unable to properly care for her and a baby on the bed-sheets, Efraim offers David a job to work for him at his company AEY and help him run guns. Although hesitant at first, David soon agrees. The two ultimately prove to be a great team, but as their jobs become bigger and the risks become greater, their friendship and partnership is tested, as well as David’s relationship with Iz.
Hmm? Oh, sorry, I was staring at this bottle with lightning in it.
Fuck! I wanted to rip into the critics and just take an explosive shit on this movie, but it’s actually pretty damn good.
Alright, so let’s rip the band-aide off nice and quick. Hill isn’t bad in this. This might be my favorite role of his. But let me say something now, his character is still exactly like every other character he’s ever played. He’s foul-mouthed, he’s constantly horny, he’s generally a fuck-up of some kind. Yet somehow, he makes it work here. Hill really makes this guy who knows his guns and the dealing trade almost like he really does know his shit. He is pretty funny and has a fun sort of “no-shits-given” attitude that I couldn’t help but enjoy. He carries the film pretty damn well. One scene that stands out for me is when David’s got a contract with the military to run some crates of berettas to the troops, but shipping proves to be problematic. The captain they’re dealing with says that because of these delays, he’s terminating their deal, for a large amount of money, and turning them in. Ready to scream bloody murder, all Efraim does is bottle it in and tries calmly asks the captain not to do that and gives a bullshit sob story. There’s plenty of scenes like this.
The movie does have a lot of fast-paced action that’s really fun to watch, the reactions from the actors are very funny, and of course, it’s pretty damn well-written.
But it’s far from perfect, so let’s dive into why.
Smaller problem, Hill’s laugh is annoying. I know I’m probably in the minority, as nearly everyone in the auditorium I was in was laughing every time he made it. But I thought it was… ugh. Did Efraim really laugh like that? Even if he did, some creative differences would have been welcomed (not that I’m not expecting that this movie took some liberties by nature).
Bigger problem, which means this is the movie’s cardinal sin for me. Aside from Teller not being nearly as charismatic as Hill, as well as his character mostly being pretty bland and uninteresting… well, when he’s not being interesting, he’s being an all-around unlikable guy. Here’s what I mean: initially, David lies to Iz about being a gun-runner. This would be understandable as she’s against the war. But it’s later revealed when she finds out that she comes to terms with what he’s doing and only asks that he doesn’t lie anymore to her. Holy fucking shit, that’s the golden hall pass right there! So surly David is honest with her for the duration of the story… or he’s a fucking douche-bag and continues to lie to HIS WIFE AND MOTHER TO HIS CHILD!!! Again, I stress that she accepts what he’s doing and this means he has absolutely no reason to lie anymore. Yet he continues to do so. She would obviously know the risks and be able to keep a secret or two, so why does he not trust her with that? Or if he doesn’t think he can, why continue being in a relationship with someone who can find your secrets IN PLAIN SIGHT THAT CAN BE EASILY FOUND!!! Seriously, David’s a fucking dumb-shit. He can afford a high-class condo, but can’t afford to drive out to the ass-end of nowhere to hide a shit load of money? Yeah… dumb-fuck. I wouldn’t know if the actual David Packouz did anything that stupid, but let’s just say I’m grateful this was just a movie that probably fabricated half of it’s facts.
Obviously, I had my issues with the characters and some lame-ass choices they made, but I can’t deny that that this movie took me by surprise by how enjoyable it was. Not too many laughs, but it was light enough to keep a smile on my face ninety percent of the time. I liked it. I probably won’t see it a second time in theatres, but it was worth the price of admission.
My honest rating of WAR DOGS: 4/5
- KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4-6qJzeb3A
Upcoming hopeful reviews:
- BEN-HUR (2016)
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BmeR9GYdDU
- MORRIS FROM AMERICA
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8HY-6F4Y_I