‘War Dogs’ Review Roundup: Todd Phillips’ Political Dramedy Leaves Critics Split
War Dogs, directed by The Hangover helmer Todd Phillips, has earned mixed reviews ahead of its wide release Friday.
War Dogs stars Miles Teller and Jonah Hill as two high school pals who end up defrauding the U.S. government out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Looking to amass vast amounts of wealth fast, the two twentysomethings – led by Hill’s Ephraim – deliver weapons to Iraq and Afghanistan, endangering their lives in a crazy con that gives them the cash to live the high life in South Beach, Miami.
War Dogs Review Roundup
The movie about the two unlikely international arms dealers who spend their money on vast quantities of marijuana has impressed some critics while deeply disappointing others, who believed the true life story of Ephraim and David could have made a better picture. While critics disagree on the quality of the final product, they agree on the commitment both Teller and Hill brought to their larger than life characters.
“War Dogs” has a dynamite tale to tell, but it keeps extinguishing the fuse. It’s based on the true story of two stoners who defrauded the Defense Department out of $300 million to deliver weapons to Iraq and Afghanistan. They made a lot of bad decisions and wound up in loads of near-death situations. […] It sounds like a wild con game. A nihilistic antiwar polemic. A rollicking bro comedy. A buddy cops flick twisted into a buddy crooks movie. It’s none of the above. Everyone brings a solid commitment to the material, but it plays much less exciting than it sounds. From time to time “War Dogs” cranks up a decent head of steam, but soon enough sputters on each of its parallel fronts. It’s sleekly produced and often spellbinding, but all too hollow.” – Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“For a movie about the gonzo, giddy world of gunrunning, ripping off the Pentagon and doing massive bong hits while living large in South Beach, “War Dogs” has a weird lack of energy and bite. Based on a Rolling Stone article about the real-life Diveroli and Packouz’s lucrative career as gray-market arms dealers, “War Dogs” stays at arm’s length from the subjects, afraid to implicate us in the pleasures and prosperity of their rise, thus making their fall seem distant, puny and unaffecting.” – Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
“Not only is “War Dogs” a surprisingly well-told tale in the classic American rags-to-riches-to-rags mode. It’s also a mordant morality fable with a genuine heart of darkness. (Plus, it has one hell of a soundtrack, matching its moods to an array of classic rock and hip-hop tunes in the Martin Scorsese vein.) The film may lure in its audience by promising a bro-tastic comedy about two ordinary dudes livin’ the dream, but under its obnoxious Porsche hood it’s got a lot more in common with “The Big Short” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “American Hustle.” – Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com
“If “War Dogs” director and co-writer Todd Phillips didn’t study from the Martin Scorsese playbook … well, come on, there’s NO WAY he didn’t study from the Scorsese playbook in making this slick and sometimes glib but undeniably entertaining, wickedly funny and justifiably cynical satire.This is a solid example of the Sobering Comedy, where we laugh consistently at the madness onscreen, all the while lamenting how it’s rooted in real-world reality.” – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
War Dogs hits theaters Friday, Aug. 18.