Borrows from Better Films
Snoogans - wrote on 08/23/16
'War Dogs' is based on the true story of two college age friends who become illegal gun smugglers by way of a get rich quick scheme to exploit government controlled gun trades. They abuse a system which allows buyers (US military) to take bids from literally anyone, thus opening the floodgates to many under-the-table illegal deals. Their plan does make them very wealthy in a very short amount of time, growing their tiny fake business into a giant fake one almost overnight. Of course, that comes at a huge price when the two disagree about the state of their affairs and ruin their biggest job and their lives in the process. This quick rise-and-fall method of power in storytelling has been seen countless times in film to great effect. Here though, that effect is only mimicked in the shadow of much better films. The entire story is told from the perspective of the more logically mindset fellow in the duo. Through his insistent narration we are made to believe him the "good one" of the two, as Hill's character is presented as the selfish, slightly crazy, asshole. The plot and presentation call to mind a long list of young successful entrepreneur centered films, as well as the gangster genre. Most apparent are the references to 'Goodfellas', 'Casino', and 'Scarface'. There's also attempts at comedic commentary reminiscent of the recent 'The Big Short' and even a dramatic split of friendship ripped straight from 'The Social Network'. 'War Dogs' lacks the dramatic investment or harsh reality present in those titles. It feels as if the writers and director were just borrowing elements from them to fall into the mold. There are certain areas where this could've diverted from the norm, but most are dropped almost instantly. The performances and direction are good enough to make this a passable/somewhat entertaining watch. The sum of the borrowed parts from better movies does not add up to a satisfying whole.