War Dogs Review: Bros in arms


Director: Todd Phillips

Writer: Todd Phillips, Stephen Chin, Jason Smilovic

Stars: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Ana de Armas, Bradley Cooper

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Release date: August 18th, 2016

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Country: USA

Running time: 114 minutes


2½/5

Best part: Hill and Teller’s chemistry.

Worst part: The derivative structure.

Director Todd Phillips exists in the same realm as Michael Bay and Zack Snyder. He began his career with adult-comedies Old School and Road Trip before delivering smash hit The Hangover. However, with the Hangover sequels and Due Date, his career fell over. Now, he’s back with something completely different and exactly the same.

War Dogs provides more meat to chew on than his earlier works. This docudrama, black comedy, war, crime flick chronicles one of the 21st Century’s most baffling true stories. Based on Guy Lawson’s Rolling Stone article and book – Arms and the Dudes – its follows twenty-something layabout David Packouz (Miles Teller) being put through the ringer. David is a disappointment – spending maximum time smoking pot and tending to rich clients as a massage therapist. After quitting his job, his one-man bed sheet business fails spectacularly. At an old friend’s funeral, he reunites with former partner in crime Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill). Diveroli is also a pot-smoking loud mouth. However, he is also a gunrunner/arms contractor for start-up AEY with ties to the US Government and troops overseas.

War Dogs resembles a blender with all-too-familiar ingredients thrown together. This sloppy and inconsistent mess is slow-moving-car-crash fascinating. Phillips, evidently, idolises Martin Scorsese and the Coen Brothers. Similarly to Bay’s 2013 sleeper hit Pain and Gain, it’s an assortment of excessive visual flourishes and questionable decisions. With any docudrama, ethics and moral quandaries come into play. Phillips – along with two other screenwriters – beef everything up for cinema purposes. The frat-boy humour and serious material never congeal. It follows the rise and fall narrative structure at every turn. Of course, the first half depicts the dynamic duo’s transformation from slackers to successes. Phillips becomes indulgent, even borrowing whole sequences from The Wolf of Wall Street, Goodfellas and Boiler Room.

Compared to the genre’s aforementioned big-hitters, War Dogs struggles to keep up. Phillips floats between admiring and despising the lead characters. Seriously, what does his movie say about these events? Does it salute young entrepreneurs slipping through the cracks? Or condemn Cheney’s America and the military-industrial complex? Nevertheless, he makes no apologies for their behaviour. Packouz, despite being the audience avatar, starts off as an unlikable schmuck and gets worse. He either blindly follows his crazy business partner or lies to his pregnant girlfriend, Iz (Ana de Armas). Despite the first half’s many fun moments, the second trudges towards the predictable dénouement. If anything, it proves Teller and Hill are charismatic enough to escape with their reputations in tact.

War Dogs is the gym junkie of rise-and-fall movies – tough and mean with little depth. Phillips’ latest places him on thin ice. This, essentially his version of a ‘serious’ effort, is The Social Network and The Big Short evil, immature brother.

Verdict: A middling docudrama.

10 Cloverfield Lane Audio Review: Who’s the Real Monster?


Director: Dan Trachtenberg

Writers: Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken, Damien Chazelle

Stars: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher, Jr., Bradley Cooper

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Release date: March 10th, 2016

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Country: USA

Running time: 103 minutes


4/5

Review:

Joy Audio Review: J-Law & Order


Director: David O. Russell

Writer: David O. Russell

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Edgar Ramirez, Bradley Cooper

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Release date: December 26th, 2015

Distributor: 20th Century Fox 

Country: USA

Running time: 124 minutes


 

2½/5

Review:

Burnt Audio Review: Bradley’s Kitchen Nightmares


Director: John Wells

Writer: Steven Knight

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Bruhl, Omar Sy

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Release date: October 30th, 2015

Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Country: USA

Running time: 101 minutes


 

2½/5

Review:

Aloha Review: Barren Paradise


Director: Cameron Crowe

Writer: Cameron Crowe

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray

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Release date: May 29th, 2015

Distributors: Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox 

Country: USA

Running time: 105 minutes


 

2/5

Review: Aloha

American Sniper Audio Review: Straight-ish Shot


Director: Clint Eastwood

Writers: Jason Hall (screenplay), Chris Kyle, Scott McEwan, Jim DeFelice (book)

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Max Charles, Luke Grimes

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Release date: December 25th, 2014

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Country: USA

Running time: 132 minutes


 

3½/5

Review:

Serena Review – Mountainous Mishap


Director: Susanne Bier

Writers: Christopher Kyle (screenplay), Ron Rash (novel)

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Rhys Ifans, Sean Harris


Release date: November 27th, 2014

Distributors: StudioCanal, Magnolia Pictures

Countries: USA, France

Running time: 109 minutes


 

 

1½/5

Best part: The scenery.

Worst part: The misjudged direction.

Review: Serena

Verdict: A Laughable and dull western-drama.