DVD Review: War Dogs

wardogsdvdSTUDIO: Warner | DIRECTOR: Todd Phillips | CAST: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Bradley Cooper, Ana De Armas, Kevin Pollak
RELEASE DATE: 11/22/16 | PRICE: DVD $9.99, Blu-ray $14.99
BONUSES: featurettes
SPECS: R | 120 min. | Comedy | 2.40:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video  | Overall

With more on its mind than its theatrical marketing campaign would suggest, War Dogs is director Todd Phillips’ Martin Scorsese moment, and it’s a grand one.  With nods to GoodFellas, Casino and, especially, The Wolf of Wall Street, the Hangover helmer delivers a wild and woolly–and often hilarious—serious comedy involving high finance at high stakes with characters that are, well, often high.

Miles Teller (Whiplash) is a good-natured, down-and-out Miami massage therapist who reunites with old Hebrew school pal Jonah Hill (Hail, Caesar!), a boisterous hustler who lures him into his business of selling arms to the U.S. government during the Iraq War.

wardogs1_optAs their business grows, so does Teller’s guilt about profiting from a conflict neither he nor his girlfriend (Ana De Armas, Knock Knock) support. At the same time, Hill has little remorse for the wheeling and dealing which eventually leads the two into precarious situations and, eventually, into contact with a dangerous international arms dealer (Bradley Cooper, Joy).

Like the aforementioned Scorsese films, War Dogs chronicles the rise and fall of its protagonists at a gung-ho frenzied pace, with danger at nearly every turn. The yin-and-yang paring of the seemingly stable Teller and the perpetually wired Hill works wonderfully, as does the ambitious screenplay (based on a actual Rolling Stone article) that finds equal time for the pair’s edgy bromance and some deft asides on the warped mentality of military operations during the George W. Bush presidency and the hazards of the industrial military complex.

War Dogs was something of a disappointment at the box-office, taking in $42 million, but will likely find its footing in its DVD and Blu-Ray release. It’s one of the happiest, most under-appreciated  surprises of the year.

 

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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.