Review: “War Dogs” spurs different genres

Abbey Whittington, Associate News Editor

"War Dogs," a film about two long-time friends who become international arms dealers, premiered in theaters August 19.
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“War Dogs,” a film about two long-time friends who become international arms dealers, premiered in theaters August 19.

While watching the trailer for the new movie “War Dogs,” anticipation was high for the story of two international arms dealers during the Iraq war. However, after seeing the film, it could be rated a six out of 10 at best.

The two friends and soon to be business partners, Efraim Diveroli, played by Jonah Hill, and David Packouz, played by Miles Teller, were a promising and comical duo in the trailer but during the movie it was hard to decipher what genre the director was going for.

The movie begins with a view into Packouz’s life as a broke college dropout who tries to make a living giving massages to the rich and starting a business in selling sheets to retirement and nursing homes.

After Packouz’s business idea turns out to be a bust and his girlfriend Iz, played by Ana de Armas, tells him he’s going to be a father, Packouz turns to his friend for comfort and is offered a partnership to deal arms internationally.

Diveroli was already pursuing the business opportunity, and the two were able to make the deals by exploiting the government initiative that allows businesses to bid on military contracts. Once Packouz made the agreement to partner with Diveroli, the movie started to take a turn for me. It was not clear what Todd Phillips, director and screenwriter, wanted for the persona of the two main characters.

The film went from heartfelt and humorous to a dramatic action-filled thriller. Normally these things would be great components for a movie but this time it felt like watching scenes of several different movies mashed into one.

Packouz, the protagonist, was introduced as the underdog with a big heart; the guy against the war with the soon-to-be mother of his child, but the sincerity of his role as the “good guy” was questionable.

Even if he would later be consumed by the fat stacks of money he would make from his deals, from the get go Packouz was more than ready to lie to his pregnant girlfriend and dive into something he supposedly did not believe in.

Not to mention the only reference to Packouz and Iz being anti-war is from an extremely small portion of his dialogue and a single poster shown in a scene that read, “Make Love Not War.”

The attempt at the heartfelt side of the film just seemed to fall short and generic. Diveroli was harder to believe. His character was not consistent at all throughout the film.

Sometimes it felt like he was just a goofy man who fell into the business to make good money, and at other times it seemed like Phillips was trying to make him seem like a version of Scar Face.

Casting Jonah Hill for the greedy arms dealer made it even harder to take seriously, not because he was a bad actor but because of the role itself. The only really commendable and consistent element throughout the film was the soundtrack that helped set the mood and transitions into the next scenes. Overall, the film was not terrible.

The ending felt like a rushed, screeching halt. However, knowing the movie was based on a true story and seeing some reality of the illegal deals being made during the war made it interesting.

Abbey Whittington can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]