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Based on a Rolling Stone article and then a book by Guy Lawson, this autobiographical film is most likely the very definition of “Loosely based on”. Playing David Packouz (Miles Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), War Dogs follows the story of two men who drastically (and unknowingly) underbid the government for a heavily sought-after military contract. The two started out as small-time runners in the Iraq War, slowly working their way up the food chain, but have caught the attention of some bigger fish. When they are asked to assist in Afghanistan, a feat that proves to be more dangerous than expected, they soon find themselves wedged between some seedy underground organizations and equally powerful people back home.
Directed by Todd Phillips, War Dogs feels a lot like many other modern comedies, with its crass humor and jarring violence. Hill is practically the originator of much of this style, having made a name for himself in the Greg Mottola directed/ Judd Apatow produced Superbad. In fact, there are a few moments in this clip that could straight-up be a Superbad sequel with Hill riffing like he’s Seth on the prowl one more time. Phillips isn’t a stranger to it either, having made The Hangover films (watch closely for a Bradley Cooper cameo). None of this is bad news, and actually, the trailer serves up some sharply written satire. Teller fills the Michael Cera role surprisingly well, and the two seem like they’ve been at it for ages. Teller got a lot of attention for his outstanding serious role as Andrew in 2014’s Academy Award winning Whiplash and while he’s suffered a bit for his involvement in the critically maligned film, Fantastic Four, this looks like a great step in the right direction. We can’t forget that Hill himself has earned two Oscar nominations already (Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street) and so knows his way around both savage comedy and gripping drama, of which no doubt War Dogs has plenty of both. Rounding out the cast, and barely seen in the clip is rising young star Ana de Armas, who has shown a lot of potential for a breakout role. She’s held own twice now alongside Keanu Reeves, in Exposed and Knock, Knock and while her role here looks to be small, hopefully she’ll will be given something significant to do. It’s still early to tell, but this trailer feels a little safe right now. Funny. But safe.
War Dogs opens August 19, 2016
Stephen Chin, Todd Phillips
Ana de Armas, Miles Teller, Jonah Hill