Starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller, War Dogs tells of two Florida Jews who struck a giant arms deal with the Pentagon.
I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it, especially Hill’s loathsomely brash performance as Efraim Diveroli, a man who’ll stop at nothing to get an extra dollar for himself. He recruits his old school chum David Packouz (Teller) and rescues him from a life of massaging and selling bedsheets to retirement homes.
Suddenly, they’re both shifting guns across borders and picking up small arms deals.
Teller, with his ridiculously pretty, pregnant wife (Ana de Armas), provides the moral compass, or at least a tinge of compunction about what they’re doing, but as the millions roll in, that subsides. Soon, all he’s got to worry about is his wife finding out what he really does.
With Hill on fine form, the ride is a fun one of cons and guns, directed with flashy, Goodfellas ambitions by Hangover director Todd Philips, who again calls in a favour from the star he made of Bradley Cooper, getting him for a cameo as a shady arms dealing legend with whom our boys finally fall into ruinous business.
When Hill’s Efraim is on the up, the film jangles along like a chunky necklace. The episode running guns from Jordan to Baghdad for the US Army with a smuggler called Marlboro is great, the lads not knowing they’re crossing the so-called “Triangle of Death.”
Thing is, I just knew from the off that this was the sort of film that would somehow contrive to end up in Vegas. So many films do these days, hoovering up the Nevada tax breaks to revel in the sleaze of that particular capitalist hell hole. That’s where the Afghan deal presents itself and that’s where the descent begins.
But because these war dogs (it is based on a true story and an article from Rolling Stone) are so venal, we can’t really care when real dangers lurk. That’s the problem, the downer, the bummer, the bit where the film falls flat and the cocaine-fuelled rush runs out. But, like Efraim, some things work fine if you just don’t give a f**k.