Twitter review: You have to watch out for those Superbad kids. They sometimes might grow up to be super bad.
Spoiler-free review: “There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?” Ok, that quote was lifted from Lord Of War, but this film is not that far off from that film. In both films, we have amoral people who sell weapons and ammunition to the US Government, as well as people who try maintaining a home life while pretending to be something they’re not. The big difference is that in Lord Of War, both of those were played by Nicolas Cage, where here they are effectively two friends who come together to sell a LOT of firearms.
War Dogs is about two friends, Efraim and David. David is a likeable guy who is a masseur, only because he can’t figure out anything else he can do with his life. When he meets up with Efraim, he soon becomes involved in Efraim’s business of supplying the Pentagon with ammunition for low level contracts. The two make plenty of money, but eventually decide to try filling a $300 million contract. To do so, they get the ammunition necessary from Henry Girard, a well-known high-profile arms dealer. Henry can’t directly work with the Pentagon, so he uses Efraim and David to help fill this project. Needless to say, things don’t go quite the way Efraim and David had hoped for.
While the film is not a straight comedy, it does have a lot of fairly light moments. It helps that Jonah Hill plays his role as if his Superbad character had grown up and decided to be a gun dealer with a laugh that sounds like Tom Hulce’s Amadeus has asthma, while Miles Teller is regularly slightly exasperated without being annoying. Bradley Cooper also does a good job as Henry – I think Bradley decided to do this role so that he could have a chance to play a menacing bad guy. The film doesn’t bother preaching about the rights or wrongs of what the two were doing, but rather just has fun while Efraim keeps seeing his relationships with people – even his friend David – in dollar signs. If you liked Lord Of War, you should also like this film as well.
Spolier-filled review: One of the things that baffled me is David’s handling of some stuff. When he formally types out a contract and has Efraim sign it, he just leaves the lone copy of the contract in his desk drawer. It never occurs to him that Efraim, BFF, might decide to swipe said copy of his contract, even when he confronts Efraim after David is kidnapped by Henry in Albania. However, he apparently was smart enough to hold on to the documents he had in Albania (which, again, were in an unlocked drawer; dude, invest some of your money in a frigging lock!), which he threatens to use against Efraim. During the whole film, David seems like he’s constantly just out of his depth, but never realizing how far out of his depth he is. It makes it a bit difficult to sympathize with him, when he eventually decides to go back to being a masseuse.
At the very end of the film, Henry offers a briefcase of cash to David to keep his mouth shut. The film never shows if he took the cash or not (in real life, David wound up making money legitimately by inventing a musical device). Personally, I would hope that after all he went through, he would just take the money, go home, tell his girlfriend (wife?) about the cash and use it for his child’s education. The world can be a shitty place, and David waded quite a bit in the shit end of the pool. The least he can do is to try and make his daughter’s life promising.