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War Dogs (Blu-ray Review)

18 Nov, 2016 By: John Latchem

Street 11/22/16
Box Office $43.03 million
$28.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD
Rated ‘R’ for language throughout, drug use and some sexual references
Stars Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Ana de Armas, Bradley Cooper.

Todd Phillips’ first directorial effort since 2013’s The Hangover Part III is The Wolf of Wall Street for international arms dealers.

The movie focuses on a twentysomething named David Packouz (Miles Teller), who in 2005 is performing odd jobs hoping to support a budding family. He runs into a high school buddy named Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), who is starting his own company to sell guns.

Efraim hopes to exploit a government program to procure weapons and ammunition from smaller contractors for low-scale military operations. David joins him in the company and soon they begin to expand with bigger and more lucrative deals, often coming up against the obvious problems of international customs and, on occasion, not having the actual weapons they’re supposed to be selling.

That’s where an intermediary played by Bradley Cooper comes in handy, introducing the boys to scores of unused weapons caches hidden all around Europe, relics of the Cold War.

David finds another problem closer to home in that Efraim turns out to be unethical, dishonest and looking to cut corners wherever he can for the sake of profit, including not bothering to pay the people actually delivering his weapons.

While ostensibly a vehicle for Teller, the film turns into a real showcase for Jonah Hill, who can switch gears so naturally from charming to abusive it’s scary.

The move into a semi-serious war dramedy is a departure from the typical hardline comedy raunch-fests Phillips is known for, but could represent a shift into more highbrow fare a la Adam McKay with The Big Short.

The whole affair is based on a true story, so it’s not much of a surprise that the real-life Packouz would lend some support to the project (appearing in a cameo and being interviewed for the behind-the-scenes extras), whereas the real Diveroli, wrapping up a stretch in prison, did not.

Phillips handles the material ably, and the film is an entertaining and eye-opening look at some of the lesser-known aspects of the War on Terror. The film isn’t trying to make any overt political points, though it may be overlooking a few the filmmakers didn’t want to consider.

The only extras on the Blu-ray are a smattering of behind-the-scenes featurettes offering a few insights about the real-life story.

About the Author: John Latchem

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