War Dogs ★★

There's a story here. A story of widespread government corruption; fudging the books by billions and billions of dollars to deal under the table with sleazy arms dealers. A story of the friction between greed and friendship, the inevitable erosion that corrodes all bonds founded on capital. A story of family and opportunity, a study of the lengths a man will go to to provide for his wife and child. Or, on a broader level, a film about excess and financial morality; a study on the ethics of profiting from an even that has cost the lives of thousands of people across the world. Comedy was also an explorable avenue, as director Todd Phillips could've easily just made this a raunchy comedy conveying the evils of wealth.

War Dogs covers it's bases, and in that I mean they touch on these issues about as lightly as possible. It has no identity, no definitive concerns as we follow these power-hungry young men into ascending stakes and bigger paychecks. The film doesn't tap into these ideas with any confidence, any meaningful ways at all. The developments are obvious, every beat feels artificial and inevitable. It's like one of those posts you see on Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr that claim to articulate an entire issue in a single picture, spitting out the interesting and mind-blowing facts without any context, analysis or genuine content. It feels like the "based on a true story" tag was nothing more than an accessory.

It's a good thing, though, that I'm pulled by some sort of cosmic force to these tales of people bending the rules to get rich. It's a narrative that is always attractive and compelling to me, no matter the quality or merit behind the project as a whole. Additionally, Miles Teller and Jonah Hill, despite being entirely unfunny, are fun to watch (with Teller surprisingly stealing the show). But the way their characters are written make it so obvious where their arcs are headed, ridding the film of any suspense or surprise. It's just a matter of time. War Dogs is a juvenile's take on an adult issue, a film that cannot decide which audience to cater to.

2016 Films Ranked

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