REVIEW: War Dogs

August 23, 2016

“As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a gangster arms dealer.”

War Dogs is an entertaining, fast-paced and well-timed action comedy set in the Bush era, directed by Todd Phillips.

The Hangover director took several pages out of Martin Scorsese’s gangster classic, Goodfellas, and for old time’s sake, a few out of the Democrat Party handbook to go along with the Bush era.

If like me, you were hoping Todd Phillips would’ve resisted turning to anti-war, left-wing tropes (given how Bush has been out of office for EIGHT YEARS now), you’ll be slightly let down.

As the main character, played by Jonah Hill said, “I’m against the war. I f—king hate Bush. But this isn’t about being pro-war. This is about being pro-money,” and “War is an economy. Anyone body who tells you otherwise is stupid”

If you thought the Iraq war had anything to do with freeing Iraqis under the thumb of a barbaric butcher, spreading democracy or protecting America’s freedom, you’d be a total schmuck, as War Dogs bluntly lays out.

War is an economy. That’s it! Case closed. George W. Bush went to war after 9/11 for money, and America was never hit by another large-scale terrorist attack between September 12, 2001, and the day he left office because of all the money he made. Or something.

The good news is, by now you’ve likely heard these same talking points from the left ad nauseum, and can drown them out subconsciously.

The rest of War Dogs is highly enjoyable. It’s a classic rise and fall story.

The film follows David Packouz (played by Miles Teller). After dropping out of college, David quickly realizes his career as a masseuse is a dead-end and goes on to invest all his savings in a business venture. This, he quickly learns, is also a complete boondoggle.

Broke and attached to a pregnant girlfriend in need of support, David is desperate for a shortcut to the top.

Enter Efraim Diveroli (played by Jonah Hill). This is one of Jonah Hill’s best performances to date, and the first time I recall seeing him really carry a film rather than playing the side-kick.

Efraim is David’s childhood friend and big shot arms dealer from Los Angeles. He’s back home in Miami and has started his own arm-sales firm, AEY – the acronym he later professes, stands for nothing, “just like IBM”, he says. Efraim offers David the chance to embark on an adventure and make boatloads of cash, acting as middle-men in weapon sales to American troops stationed in Iraq. Given his economic predicament, David opts to waive his pacifism for the promised payday.

Following Scorsese’s style, War Dogs is narrated by the main character and apprentice arms dealer. This was a wise move on the director’s part as viewers get to learn how the business operates, how weapons are bought and sold, and how bidding on government contracts on the open market works simultaneously with David.

And so comes the rise. Bigger and bigger Pentagon contracts, greater profits and of course, cocaine galore. As their successes grow, so does Efraim’s greed and drug use.

Although successfully getting you to root for the drug-abusing, arms-dealing duo at first, War Dogsconcludes with the spotlight on their moral depravity, as Efraim and David spiral down from their short-lived success, which unfortunately for them was built on a foundation weaker than the Chinese ammo they tried to repackage and sell to the Pentagon.

In the end, Todd Phillips crafted a truly entertaining film, blending his Hangover-style comedy with the gritty gangster classics of Martin Scorsese. He even paired individual scenes to some classic rock hits in usual Scorsese fashion.

Sure, War Dogs may, at times, annoy the one or two Bush fanboys in the audience like myself, but hey, even Hill admits to being a fan of the former commander in chief when a US attack helicopter literally saved his life, destroying a truck, full of terrorists.

“I love Cheney’s America!” he cried.