Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Ana de Armas
Release Date: November 22, 2016
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
Based on a true story, “War Dogs” follows two friends in their early 20s (Hill and Teller) living in Miami Beach during the Iraq War who exploit a little-known government initiative that allows small businesses to bid on U.S. Military contracts. Starting small, they begin raking in big money and are living the high life. But the pair gets in over their heads when they land a 300 million dollar deal to arm the Afghan Military—a deal that puts them in business with some very shady people, not the least of which turns out to be the U.S. Government.
Based on a true story, ‘War Dogs’ accompanies two reunited best friends and the progress of their growing arms business; exploiting an initiative that allows them to bid on and largely profit off of U.S. Military contracts via their small business. Soon the duo finds themselves forced to undertake dangerous tasks and visit treacherous locations simply to keep their business afloat and avoid bad word of mouth that could quickly ruin it all. As the profits continue to pile in and things look increasingly better than ever, the two uncover a monumentally large contract that could set them up for life if they are able to win the bid and somehow pull it off. Exploring all options and calling in favors left and right, they hesitantly partner with a questionable businessman in order to fulfill the contract, but as one issue after another begins to pile up, they start to realize they might have gotten in over their heads.
Directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Old School) from a script he also co-wrote with Stephen Chin (Another Day in Paradise) and Jason Smilovic (Lucky Number Slevin) which was based upon the Rolling Stone article “Arms and the Dudes” by Guy Lawson respectively, Phillips does a wonderful job at the helm of ‘War Dogs’ and manages to perfectly capture a fitting blend of comedy and drama. The film also owes its share of credit to the talented folks that comprise the cast, particularly Jonah Hill and Miles Teller who play off of each other brilliantly in the lead roles and both also deliver notable performances in their own right. The film additionally includes a highly capable supporting cast including Ana de Armas, Kevin Pollak, Bradley Cooper, and more who all deliver solid performances in each of their respective roles.
‘War Dogs’ is a surprisingly fantastic film and also in many ways a very different movie from what the trailer might imply. While that’s not to say it doesn’t deliver its share of laughs thanks to the ever hilarious Jonah Hill and the undeniable chemistry between Hill and Miles Teller which naturally results in a consistently enjoyable and fairly humorous film. Nonetheless ‘War Dogs’ is by no means a comedy in the larger scope, merely utilizing the comedy in order to balance the often unsettling true events into a more viewer friendly experience if you will. Many have criticized the film for supposedly poking fun at the events or trying to ignore the important reality within, yet I can’t help but disagree. The comedy may allow for a less unsettling film overall, but it’s quite clear that was never intended to be the case and while Director Todd Phillips may embrace the comedic elements, he never uses them as a tool to hide the more important factors from his audience, nor does the film shy away from the consequences of unforgivable actions and the cost of the choices we make. Phillips does a fantastic job achieving the proper balance between drama and comedy, and as a whole ‘War Dogs’ was quite the pleasant surprise and a film I would strongly recommend giving a whirl should you have the opportunity to do so.
Overall, ‘War Dogs’ is an entertaining, occasionally powerful and frequently humorous film. It offers plenty of laughs amidst the insanity and while providing plenty of grin inducing fun, it also tackles some important real life issues and doesn’t shy away from the reality of the activity which it focuses upon, even if having its share of indirect fun with it in the process. The film is wonderfully guided by director Todd Phillips and features a notable cast including Jonah Hill and Miles Teller who are surprisingly fantastic together. It may not be one of the year’s most exceptional films, but ‘War Dogs’ is definitely a solid entry and a truly enjoyable ride that I would definitely recommend checking out for anyone at all interested in the movie; it’s definitely well worth the cost of a rental at the very least.
The Blu-ray release of ‘War Dogs’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole and delivers a sharp, detailed and gorgeous presentation from start to finish that perfectly captures the rich colors and scenery of various locations without any notable faults to be found within. It holds up impressively even during the darkly lit and/or fast moving sequences and never results in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is another wonderful high definition video presentation from Warner Bros. that should easily please both fans of the film and casual viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack provides a consistently crisp, clean and often fairly aggressive audio presentation. It frequently utilizes all five available channels in order to immerse the viewer within the always perfectly fitting musical selections, as well as sending a healthy quantity of bullets, vehicle activity and more whipping throughout the various speakers, yet never causing any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a top notch 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that contributes yet another layer of fun to this enjoyable film and shouldn’t disappoint.
The Blu-ray release of ‘War Dogs’ includes a few extras including a couple of behind the scenes Featurettes that feature interviews/comments with the cast and crew, behind the scenes footage and more; they are: ‘General Phillips: Boots on the Ground’ (running approximately 9 minutes in length), and ‘War Dogs: Access Granted’ (running approximately 10 minutes). An informative, animated sing-along music video ‘Pentagon Pie’ (running approximately 3 minutes) is also included.