Living the American Dream...

Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.

Known for low-brow comedies, Todd Phillips began his career creating such films as Road Trip, Old School and a little later the Hangover series of films. But his latest effort; War Dogs, whilst containing some of those same comedic underpinnings aims to be a far more serious piece of literature, a film sparked to life from a Rolling Stone article published back in 2011.

Beginning within the sweltering city of Miami in 2005, here resides David Packouz (Miles Teller) a massage therapist who is self admittedly pretty good at his job, but rubbing down sweaty old people who aim to entice a sexual favour from him now and then isnít exactly the enthralling life he envisioned for himself.

And thatís especially true now, with him and his beautiful partner Iz (Ana de Armas) expecting to settle down together and start a family. But when an old friend passes away, fate brings him face -to-face with old acquaintance Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) at the funeral.

With the two rekindling their relationship, and catching up on their lives, David confides in Efraim of his larger aspirations. Coincidentally Efraim is looking for a partner in his on-going - and very profitable - business that just so happens to deal in arms.

After showing David the ropes stemming from the exploitation of a caveat in tendering for Government contracts online, David leaves his simple life - and crappy pay - behind as the two delve into the morally grey world of Government's, watch lists and terrorist states and ultimately War Dogs.

Itís such a familiar yet surprising departure from Todd Phillips previous works, to deliver a film the quality of War Dogs that could very easily be the stepbrother of 2013ís The Wolf of Wall Street - itís arms dealing Armenian brother of course. With an overall story that whilst instantly familiar covers a lot of aspects from the American dream gone wild, to the realisation of how much can you truly know someone?

Likewise Jonah Hill, whilst playing a supporting role in The Wolf of Wall Street completely shines in War Dogs as Efraim, with one of the finest performances of his young career. Offering a character that verges on sociopathic and slightly off-kilter, whilst able to bring a smile to your face in the next scene, Jonah truly steals the show and heís on quite the run lately. Miles Teller on the other hand is fairly formulaic, whilst not bad, doesnít offer a character - and that is partly down to the script - that you really care about in War Dogs eventual conclusion, and much like Jordan Belfort in the aforementioned film, it feels far more of a karmic comeuppance for the pair than true enlightenment within the character's arc.

War Dogs - (Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Ana de Armas, Kevin Pollak and Bradley Cooper)

But the witty script within War Dogs constantly keeps you on the toes and will have you mouth agape at the ďthis truly canít be based upon fact, can it?Ē situations the pair find themselves in, never dragging and managing to keep everything upbeat and swiftly moving along that aims to be quality entertainment and wholly succeeds at it.

If it wasnít for the such shared similarities in both characterization and cast with The Wolf of Wall Street, then I truly believe War Dogs would be on the receiving end of even further praise and being heralded a trailblazer. Alas thatís not the case, and as it stands War Dogs by itself is definitely worth a watch, a film that whilst treads known ground has been executed flawlessly - not to mention includes fantastic cameo performance from Bradley Cooper that is sure to put you off visiting Albania for life - boasting very few if any, negative niggles.

Special Features

Pentagon Pie - An approximately 2 minute long animation explaining not only the overall arc of the story within War Dogs, but of the factual absurdity over the ease in tendering arms deals with the U.S. Government and foreign entities. Itís simple and to the point, with mainly static imagery that is effective in what itís trying to do.

Unfortunately thatís it. Amazing right? I feel War Dogs completely misses the boat with its home entertainment release, not including a directorís commentary, blooper reel or a short Ďtrueí story of the real people these characters are based upon. What a completely missed opportunity that really lessens the value within the package for what is ordinarily a fantastic film.

The home entertainment release of War Dogs is marred by a distinct lack of special features, but thankfully the film itself more than makes up for it.

War Dogs is a fun, frantic and highly entertaining watch, that continues the pattern of currently high calibre performances weíve come to expect from Jonah Hill. And whilst writer & director Todd Phillips has made a career out of absurd comedy, his work shines brightest in War Dogs.

A DVD review copy of War Dogs was provided by the distributor for review purposes.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    26th December 2016

  • 4 Out of 5 Stars
  • Lack of special features

  • Jonah Hill

    Great script

    Paced well

    Highly entertaining

Film Info

War Dogs War Dogs
Rating: 15
Release Date: 7th November
Runtime: 1 hr 54 mins
Director: Todd Phillips
Starring: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Ana de Armas, Kevin Pollak & Bradley Cooper

  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Pain & Gain
  • Lord of War

No, contains many scenes of drug abuse, violence and intense situations.

The real Efraim Diveroli declined to meet with actor Jonah Hill who portrays him.

Jesse Eisenberg and Shia LaBeouf were previously in talks to star in the two roles.

The whole action placed in Albania was actually held in Romania, even the language of the workers at the warehouse is Romanian.

The real Efraim Diveroli filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., director Todd Phillips, producer Bradley Cooper, and others, seeking to block release of the film. Diveroli's suit against Warner Bros. claimed that the basis for the film was taken from his self-published memoir Once A Gun Runner.