Basically if The Hangover and Scarface had a love child together, they would’ve made this movie. With a combination like that, what on earth could possibly go wrong with this true story? A lot, a whole lot. Let’s break down War Dogs.

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War Dogs is directed by Todd Phillips, whose name may sound familiar as the guy who brought us films like Old School and The Hangover Trilogy. This movie is somewhat of a departure from that genre.  

Based on a true story, David Packouz played by Miles Teller is having some money issues when he’s trying to provide for his wife and a newborn baby that’s on the way. When Teller’s character runs into an old friend played by Jonah Hill, Hill’s character offers him a gig to get him a bigger paycheck. That gig involves selling and supplying high-power weaponry to the U.S Government and for the troops in Afghanistan.

I had no idea this was based on a true story, let alone know what that story was all about. For me, I’m just looking for a good, entertaining story when it comes to any film.

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The best aspect of this film is the narrative told through the perspective of Miles Teller’s character, who gives another strong, convincing performance. While Teller’s character catches the audience up to speed on what to know, the movie does a great job of making itself feel like story with chapters by cutting hard to a black screen with a short message at certain points. As the story progressed, I found myself becoming more interested with each new chapter of this story and wanting to know what’s going to happen next.

I might have to think about this next statement, but as it stands right now: I believe this film has the strongest performance from Jonah Hill I’ve ever seen. Hill’s character is such a prick and I mean that in the best way possible, Jonah’s delivery of dialogue and mannerisms captured the essence of a true double-sided, shady a-hole. The best part of Hill’s character is that you don’t know if he’s actually a good guy or just playing the role of the good guy to his “friend”. He’s just a scumbag (in a good way).

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This movie, however, isn’t without faults. For as engaging this movie is, I feel like they could’ve chopped out 15-20 minutes of this film to make it a little more tighter, it felt like some scenes were just there for filler and didn’t really progress the plot. If those scenes were devoted to fleshing out Tiller and Hill’s characters a little more, than I wouldn’t mind the length, but unfortunately they don’t produce really anything of note.

The trailer would also have you believe Bradley Cooper is in this movie a lot, however he’s really only in it for a like 20 something minutes in this almost 2 hour film. Which is my other nitpick, I could’ve used more Cooper. When his character is present, the movie and its story kicked into the next gear of interest and tension. Of course, Cooper gives the standard, great performance for the short time he’s on screen.

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All in all, War Dogs is a very solid, entertaining drama-thriller. The movie knows how to keep its audience engaged and interested in this story of real-life implications, boasted by strong performances from Hill, Teller, and a small portion of Cooper. Despite its filler scenes here and there, I came out of the theater satisfied.

I’m going to give War Dogs a solid “B” on the movie grading scale. If you’re someone who fascinated by true stories involving war and you wanted an entertaining take on it, this film should be definitely added to your queue.

As always, thanks so much for reading and make sure to stay posted to Frank’s Takes for more reviews. Until next time, keep it 100.

– Frank

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