War, what is it good for? Contractors, according to War Dogs. This stripped-from-the-headlines caper is about two young men, David (Miles Teller) and Efraim (Jonah Hill), who unscrupulously sold guns and ammo to the US Army. Although references (within the movie and the way that it has been marketed) to Brian de Palma’s Scarface abound, War Dogs is a lot more like Lord of War, which also relies on voiceover, traffics in realpolitik cynicism, makes use of montage, and features a number of catchy rock-n-roll tunes. One might expect outrageous gags from director Todd Phillips, whose notable work includes Old School and The Hangover Trilogy, yet his treatment of the material is rather sober though nonetheless funny. (War Dogs follows a recent trend of comedies set in the Middle East against the backdrop of the War on Terror; other such movies are Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and Rock the Kasbah.) If War Dogs isn’t digressive or artsy it’s certainly engrossing and well-paced. Jonah Hill’s performance, featuring a Joker-like staccato laugh, is convincing while Miles Teller is charming as the morally conflicted protagonist. Bradley Cooper has a pretty interesting supporting role. Ana de Armas, who plays David’s girlfriend, is underwritten, however.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White