Review: War Dogs

My week has had more Miles Teller in it than usual. I got to see Whiplash because a friend let me borrow it, and I thought it was great. Not sure if I’ll do a review about it, but I’m open to the idea. What I didn’t realize until I saw War Dogs today was that Teller’s got a bunch of facial scars. While watching Whiplash, I thought the scars were just a part of his character, but when they showed up on his face in this movie, I was curious to find out what happened to him. My friend David of Double Feature Preachers quickly let me know that he got into a horrendous car accident, and thankfully it wasn’t fatal.

 

As for War Dogs itself, I found the movie to be fairly enjoyable. Teller and Jonah Hill both do well in their performances. It was also fascinating to see just how the U.S. government buys its munitions and how the practices can lead to some really sketchy stuff (if the movie is to be believed that is).

 

Miles Teller plays a fairly normal person in the movie. I would not say that who he played was completely character-less, but there are not very many traits about him that audience members can chew on.

By contrast, Jonah Hill plays quite the lively persona. He is one part asshole and one part charming chameleon. What ends up providing the most entertainment in War Dogs is how Teller and Hill play off each other. In fact, I think the point of making Teller some normal guy was to give the audience a glimpse of what can happen to someone when they decide to abandon their reasonable moral compass for making unfathomable amounts of money.

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That being said, the movie was not nearly as funny as I was hoping it would be. There are a handful of laughs provided, mainly by Hill and his don’t-give-a-crap attitude, but the funniest parts were already spoiled by the trailer. The vast majority of the film has a dramatic tone; this is not a bad thing, but it is a bit of a letdown considering the trailers made me believe that this was going to be a really funny dark comedy.

 

And speaking of the trailers, I was really bummed out that they spoiled a celebrity cameo in this film; I thought it would have done the movie way more justice if I discovered that this person was in the movie, you know, when he appears in the movie.

 

This movie sabotages itself an unfortunate amount of times. Teller’s character serves as a narrator for almost all of the movie, and even though this did help explain some parts of the plot, I found a decent amount of it to be unnecessary. There are times where Teller is narrating how he feels about what is taking place which leads me to believe that they did not have enough confidence in the script or the actors.

Explaining how a person feels through narration is a lot lazier and uninteresting than if you create scenes and performances that allow the audience to identify how characters feel through interpretation.

 

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War Dogs seemed to separate their movie into chapters. Each chapter begins with a black screen with a phrase in white letters placed in the middle of the screen. Each phrase is eventually spoken by one of the characters in the film. In essence, the film tries to get you to anticipate what is coming next in the story.

I’m not sure why they did this… It’s almost as if they were trying to spoil what happens next. There are some movies that do things like this where I think it’s fitting (many of Tarantino’s films come to mind), but the titles that they use in War Dogs really do not add anything to the viewing experience in my opinion.

 

The soundtrack for this movie fit with the overall tone, and I found the majority of it to be enjoyable… a bit in-your-face and unsubtle, but enjoyable nevertheless.

 

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In the end, War Dogs is a movie that provides enough interest and entertainment to be worth the price of admission. The vast majority of the content is nothing new; I’ve seen it before a bunch of other times in other movies, but I don’t think that’s a valid enough criticism for me to say, “Don’t see it.” I certainly had a good time with it, but I cannot see myself remembering War Dogs after a month or two, and I’m giving this movie a 6 out of 10.

 

stevejdonahue.wordpress.com

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