While the basic plotline is interesting, some familiar performances and some distracting pacing issues take this away from the riotous adventure promised in the trailer to a subpar emulation of the Wolf of Wall Street.
Based on a true story, War Dogs follows the making and subsequent breaking of two of the youngest weapons dealers in history. After running into each other at a funeral, estranged best friends David Packouz (Miles Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) become business partners in the art of weapons dealing.
Having directed some of the best and worst comedies in the last 10 years, director Todd Phillips has decided to change pace and adapt the unbelievable true life story of the two young arms dealers. While the different direction is a breath of fresh air from the director, the story is interesting but definitely suffers at times most when it should be pulling the audience deeper into the plot.
From a writing perspective there isn’t really much to say. Given the events, a story such as this can be almost directed by anyone and still show you some of the impossible things these characters got away with. While this may be a good thing for the fanatic cinefile, it’s at this point where the comedy fan might feel a little disappointed as the trailers avidly promoted a potential comedy while the final product gives you something quite different.
Another glaring issue is with the pacing of the film. Starting off strong, we are introduced quickly to the main characters by a necessary first person narrative but rather than flow nicely, the story is quick to concentrate on some aspects while ignoring others. This unbalanced plot is odd as you want to know what happens next but equally feel your interest waning as it takes so long to get to the point.
Rising star Miles Teller is one of the leads but as someone rightly put when leaving the cinema, he is the only one that feels like he belongs. Jonah Hill, while playing the part well, feels almost like he is recycling performances from his most recent films while the fleeting moments from Bradley Cooper are less that overwhelming.
Overall, War Dogs is definitely carried more from its story than it is its comedy. While Miles Teller to his credit carries the plot, unbalanced pacing issues and lack of innovative storytelling makes this feel like something you would have seen before, but just not quite as good. 3 out of 5.