By Sergio Martinez – mtltimes.ca
Those who expect just a typical American comedy high on profanities and simple humouristic situations may feel disappointed with this movie. Well, the profanities are there indeed, and there are comical scenes too. However, what director Todd Phillips did, together with the co-writers of the story Stephen Chin and Jason Smilovic, was to portray, under the appearance of funny events, a very serious subject. “War Dogs” is based on a real story reported in the article “The Stoner Arms Dealers” published by “Rolling Stone” in 2011. The article recounted the story of two twenty-something arms dealers that after winning a Pentagon contract were facing difficulties fulfilling their obligation since the ammunition was Chinese-made, and the U.S. had an embargo against that type of deals. The dealers then came out with an ingenious way to circumvent the legal obstacle, which eventually led to their downfall and the case becoming public.
“War Dogs” is the story of the two young entrepreneurs who found themselves involved in something more than just searching for lucrative opportunities on the Pentagon website but at times they have to deliver some of the cargo themselves under dangerous conditions. Their first involvement was during the American invasion of Iraq; they would later get a contract for the Afghan campaign too.
At the start of the movie we see David Packouz (Miles Teller) working as a masseur in Miami, then trying to sell bed sheets. None of these jobs is very satisfying nor provide much-needed money, especially now that his girlfriend Iz (Ana de Armas) is getting pregnant. Enter his former high-school pal Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), who happens to attend a funeral in the city, and things would change forever. Efraim would convince David to get into bidding for the U.S. military arms contracts. He explains that following some new directives the Pentagon is now giving the opportunity to bid for some minor supplies to small companies like the one that he has incorporated and for which he has set an office in a rundown building. To David’s objections that he is against the war, Efraim replies that it is not a matter of being pro-war, but pro-money. That would settle the discussion; David will be on board, and business would flourish, in fact, the two would make lots of money. David would still have to face a more difficult situation at home when Iz realizes what the real line of business in which her boyfriend is involved in, a problem that won’t be easy to solve.
As a film that combines action, many funny situations, but a subtext in which the U.S. military is portrayed as a machine involved in all kinds of dirty tricks “War Dogs” is very interesting to see. Both, Teller and Hill, deliver solid performances as the young arms dealers, one definitely moved with the goal of making money the other with some doubts.
Length: 114 min.