Let slip these pups of war

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY


Di­rected by Todd Phillips Star­ring Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Ana de Ar­mas, Bradley Cooper Cert 15A, gen re­lease, 116mins When War Dogs grows up, it really, really wants to be Good­fel­las. Or at least The Wolf

of Wall Street. It’s got the blar­ing pop sound­track, yakking in diner booth scenes, and a clas­sic rags-to-riches-to-uh-oh tra­jec­tory.

And, in com­mon with the listed Scors­ese pic­tures, a great deal of what hap­pens in War

Dogs is true. Kinda. To­wards the end of Ge­orge W Bush’s pres­i­dency, as con­flict rum­bled on in the Mid­dle East, the de­mands for mil­i­tary sup­plies be­came so great any un­scrupu­lous loser might bid for con­tracts with the Pen­tagon.

En­ter un­scrupu­lous ston­ers David Pack­ouz (Miles Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), two twen­tysome­thing un­re­con­structed bros who stum­ble into a $300 mil­lion con­tract to sup­ply the Afghan mil­i­tary with mil­lions of rounds of AK-47 am­mu­ni­tion. Skul­dug­gery is manda­tory.

Work­ing with screen­writ­ers Stephen Chin and Ja­son Smilovic, Hang­over di­rec­tor Todd Phillips takes lib­er­ties early and of­ten with a story first re­counted by Guy Law­son in Rolling Stone mag­a­zine. Cue a dar­ing, en­tirely fic­tional smug­gling op­er­a­tion through Iraq and a neat good arms dealer (Teller); bad arms dealer (Hill) di­chotomy.

War Dogs of­fers an ironic “huz­zah” for what Diveroli calls “Dick Cheney’s Amer­ica” as our two bros ca­vort and snort to the strains of Be­hind

Blue Eyes. Get it? Trou­ble is, it’s not nearly ironic enough. There’s noth­ing like the lengthy para­noia and de­cline that one finds in the Scors­ese pic­tures that War

Dogs hopes to emu­late. The most threat­en­ing fig­ure in the movie is a “leg­endary arms dealer” played by Bradley Cooper, for good­ness sake. Any pos­si­ble con­se­quences and neg­a­tive side-ef­fects are glossed over in favour of giddy (and ul­ti­mately repet­i­tive) mon­tages. Why let death and de­struc­tion get in the way of a good bro-story?

It’s not all bad news. There are mo­ments when War Dogs ap­prox­i­mates the ef­fec­tive pol­i­tics-chan­nelling com­edy of

The Big Short, with en­ter­tain­ingly pre­sented facts and fig­ures; Teller and Hill make for great screen bud­dies; and, bar the oc­ca­sional lull, Phillips keeps the movie rat­tling along.

Miles Teller and Jonah Hill make great screen bud­dies

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