War Dogs promised to be Lord of War (2005) meets The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – the moral dissonance of an individual profiting from the business of war as seen in Nicolas Cage’s 2005 performance, embodied instead by characters who are amoral and edgy. The first twenty minutes or so of the film are uncomfortable, mostly due to Miles Teller’s jarring narration. This opening promises little for the hour and thirty minutes to come. Once invested in the story, however, the film becomes interesting and fast-paced, thanks to Director Todd Phillips. The soundtrack conforms to the recent trend of using covers of classic pop songs throughout, but pulls it off surprisingly well. His experience in delivering comedy blockbusters carries through at times, as does Jonah Hill’s comedic timing, but these are largely held back by the comedic limitations of the lead actor, and a screenplay that favours lazy crudity over actual jokes. The characters, as mentioned, are difficult to relate to. They exist in a context that has the potential to be an interesting discussion of right and wrong, and the role one plays in the perpetuation of death, as we see in Lord of War. However, instead of characters who toe-the-line between personal ambitions and moral responsibilities, we have characters who are amoral, but with no redeeming qualities. Regardless of how interesting the story becomes, if you can’t relate to or empathise with a character, then it is difficult to truly care what happens to them. Perhaps worth a watch, but watch Lord of War after.
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