So this week’s review was actually a difficult one to choose. On one hand, I had the unfortunate pleasure of seeing Hell or High Water, which was unbearably bad and very much disappointed me. On the other hand, I was recommended to go see the new Ben-Hur remake by one of my friends, who said it had the best last 20 minutes of any movie he’s seen in awhile, however I didn’t get a chance to see that one yet. So instead of crucifying a plain old bad movie, let’s look at War Dogs.
Story: The story follows the tale of David Packouz, a massage therapist who is convinced to join a friend’s arm’s company and sell weapons to the US government to use in the Iraq War. The story fits the style of the movie in being just crazy enough to be believable, including a scene where they have to smuggle a truck full of guns from Jordan to Baghdad. It is fun and generally keeps the movie rolling, however the pacing is like a 90 year old trying to drive a car; it’s action packed one minute yet takes time to delve into Packouz’s personal life the next. It’s annoying and I wish many of those slower moments would have been cut to make the film more streamlined.
Acting: Miles Teller and Jonah Hill do a good job together. While not as good as Hill and DiCarprio in the Wolf of Wall Street, they do work well together. The problem is that while Jonah Hill plays his part perfectly, it gets annoying by the end of the film. Plus Bradley Cooper is not very good. It seems as if the character he’s playing is Bradley Cooper so that the Warner Brothers could say that Bradley Cooper is in the movie.
Presentation: This is where the film gets on my nerve. For 1, the film splits up the movie into little pieces separated by a black screen with a quote from the upcoming section. It’s as if someone wanted to copy the style of Quentin Tarantino (something that no one should really be doing). For 2, the cinematography is nothing short of strange at times. There are some scenes where the camera is ultra zoomed into the actors during a conversation for no apparent reason. Plus there are some times where there are these long panning shots that seem to be there to add tension but instead just breaks immersion. It’s movies like this that make me wish directors would stick to more basic shots and angles for most movies. Not every movie needs to be ground breaking.
Effect: It is pretty clear that this film was aiming to be the next Wolf of Wall Street. It’s a comedy based off a real life story and yet is crazy enough to think it’s made up, and it even stars Jonah Hill as basically the same character. However, this film does not deliver the same excitement of Wolf. Additionally the pacing issues made it hard for me to really relate to the characters.
Other: This movie has some really good and funny scenes but is overshadowed by some dumb scenes and dumb logic. I’m not sure if it was the real facts or part of the dramatization but Packouz is just dumb. One minute, he’s stupid enough to leave an important document in an unlocked drawer in his desk and the next minute he’s telling us he has records of everything he has done to cover his ass. It’s stupid dumb (yes I know how that sounds) and completely broke my enjoyment of the film when I was watching. This is better off being seen at home when nothing else is on.
I was really looking forward to War Dogs and once again I was let down. There are some great moments but as a whole, it is just not what it could have been.