I was looking forward to ‘War Dogs’ for a number of reasons; firstly I was hoping that the film could deliver some much needed comedy as 2016 has been distinctly lacking in this genre so far. On top of this I was hoping that this would see Miles Teller in a more substantial role than normal as since ‘Whiplash’ he seems to have been somewhat wasted in the films he’s starred in. My impression going into the film was that ‘War Dogs’ was very much a comedy but in all honesty it’s a mash up of that and drama being a biopic of arms dealers Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) and David Packouz (Miles Teller).
‘War Dogs’ is a film of two halves in that it really doesn’t get off to a good start. The movie begins with a big focus on the comedy aspect but unfortunately this just doesn’t work. Nothing is that funny and the film relies on drug humour and Jonah Hill’s characters bizarre laugh to get audiences chuckling, more often than not failing. As this continues throughout the first half of the film I was really willing the credits to role, I wasn’t engaged or invested at all. This however only makes the second half of the film seem that bit more impressive as it managed to make me do a complete turnaround in terms of my interest as once the film focused on the drama element things got so much better. The turning point for the movie is when Bradley Cooper’s character makes an appearance. It is here that the narrative is really developed with less attempts at comedy meaning that audiences can now actually be stimulated watching the film. It’s a shame that the first part of the film couldn’t take a similar approach as ‘War Dogs’ strength easily lies in it’s drama rather than it’s comedy.
‘War Dogs’ is also based on a true story however saying that, apparently it’s heavily fictionalised. This maybe explains why the narrative is fairly predictable, although this isn’t all bad as the second half of the film deals with the story well enough that it is still enjoyable to watch what you knew was inevitable. The cast do well to make this story watchable. Jonah Hill & Miles have good chemistry on screen and both do well with their individual characters. It was good to see Teller starring in something a little more challenging than some of his other recent roles. Bradley Cooper only has a small role in the film but does well as a character that he wouldn’t be naturally cast as. No doubt his involvement came about due to ‘War Dogs’ being directed by Todd Phillips who directed ‘The Hangover’ trilogy. Phillips has done well here showing that he can direct more than just comedy, maybe he deliberately made the first half of the film so unfunny to better showcase his talents of directing other genres! Nonetheless I’d definitely watch any future biopics with him in the directing chair.
‘War Dogs’ is a troubled film, it struggles at first not knowing whether it wants to be a comedy or not and attempts to match the tone of past biopics such as ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. The performances of the cast are all good. What is most impressive about the film though is how it manages to regain the interest of it’s audience and actually deliver at least half of an engaging and entertaining biopic. Stick with it and you’ll have a good time but I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to switch off half an hour in.
Rating – 6.5/10
Question: What is your favourite biopic?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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