War Dogs, an action-comedy directed by Todd Philips, offers viewers not only an action-packed, gun-filled thriller, but also an abundance of laughs. This balance makes the film incredibly easy to watch and also quite enjoyable. War Dogs is also based on a true story, and it portrays the lives of the characters very accurately, something that seems difficult to do given the comical nature of the film.
While the cinematography was nothing extraordinary, there were a few aspects of how the film was shot that caught my attention. The opening scene gives viewers a perspective on how much money goes into outfitting our soldiers and presents the plot of the story in a very interesting way. Essentially, the main characters receive and fill government contracts for weapons and ammunition. They make their money if they can successfully deliver weapons and ammo on time to their clients. The opening scene is shot in a night vision style, outlining equipment and showing the price of each piece of gear and also about the amount of money the government spends on its soldiers. This filming method draws attention to the basis of the movie from the very first moment you begin watching. Details like these made the film far more interesting to me.
The film features some fairly popular actors that are able to portray the characters that they play extremely well. Miles Teller plays David Packouz, a protagonist whose character transitions from a massage therapist to a gun runner. Jonah Hill plays another main character Efriam Diveroli, who is an old friend of David’s from high school and is the founder of AEY, a small arms dealer. Eventually they find their way back together and start working together in the gun running business. The other prominent actor that appears in the film is Bradley Cooper as Henry Girard. Henry’s character is interesting in the sense that he acts as a hero to Efriam and David. These characters all work together well and masterfully advance the plot of the film. Each of them embraces a personality that is specific to their own character, and they fit their roles well.
As for the plot of the film itself, I think that viewers would either love it or hate it. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. Personally, I enjoyed it; however, one piece of the plot construction didn’t really appeal to me. For the first half of the film, the main characters David and Efriam are succeeding as government-contracted weapons dealers, but around the halfway point of the film, things take a turn. They successfully complete one of their larger contracts, and the movie feels like it’s about to end, and it very well could have. However, there are still about 45 minutes left in the film, so as a viewer, it feels like the plot gets dragged on. After they achieve this success, things begin to deteriorate for the main characters. While they begin making tons of money, their personal lives take a serious left turn. David and his wife start having problems with their marriage because his job requires him to spend a vast amount of time in war-torn parts of the Middle East that put his life in extreme danger. To me, this part of the plot wasn’t as enjoyable as the first part. It strays away from the humor and action that are in the movie.
Overall, the viewing experience for this movie was positive. Despite some of the plot issues that didn’t appeal to me personally, I still thoroughly enjoyed watching War Dogs. There was a decent balance of action and comedy, but these traits were definitely more prominent in the beginning half of the film. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of just 59%, which is relatively low. However, I find that Rotten Tomatoes often gives films like War Dogs lower scores. Nonetheless, I would highly recommend giving the movie a chance if you haven’t already seen it.