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Jonah Hill kills, though ‘War Dogs’ misses the target

Truth competence be foreigner than fiction, yet that hasn’t stopped a makers of “War Dogs” from perplexing to tame that strangeness into submission. Set during a final years of a George W. Bush administration, this careless comic thriller purports to tell a furious and crazy story of Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, dual pretender fight profiteers from Miami Beach who exploited the U.S. conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and temporarily achieved big-time standing in a general arms trade.

It’s a scattershot, fitfully humorous Hollywood diagnosis of a real-life American hustle, one that competence have been good served by a likes of David O. Russell, a master farceur who already has one superb Mideast fight frisk underneath his belt (“Three Kings”). Instead it wound adult in a hands of Todd Phillips, who has styled this passion plan along a aggressively informed lines of a friend comedy, right down to a casting of Jonah Hill as a loathsome, larger-than-life star of a show.

It wasn’t a bad thought on paper. As a executive of “The Hangover” movies, “Due Date,” “Old School” and “Road Trip,” Phillips has warranted his repute as a dilettante in a many varieties of masculine misbehavior. As an impassioned instance of what can occur when dual shaping dudes have too many time and weed on their hands, “War Dogs” upholds that lowbrow comic tradition even as it pushes it in a some-more topical, grown-up direction. Adapted from a 2011 Rolling Stone essay by Guy Lawson (who after wrote a book on a subject, “Arms and a Dudes”), this is Phillips’ initial design in a while to sell itself on some-more than only lines of coke and decapitated zoo animals. (It contains some of a former, yet zero of a latter.) It’s offered itself on a novel thought that it indeed has a terrific, rip-roaring story to tell.

'War Dogs' trailer

‘War Dogs’ trailer

Jonah Hill and Miles Teller star in “War Dogs.”

Jonah Hill and Miles Teller star in “War Dogs.”

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Which it would, anyway, if Phillips didn’t keep weighing it down with borrowed moves and prosaic ideas. After one of those purposeless how-did-we-get-here prologues, a film flashes behind 3 years to 2005, around a time that David (Miles Teller), an pleasant college dropout, is stranded operative as a massage therapist in Miami. After contrast out a lame-brained try offered high-end bedsheets to retirement homes, he gets a many some-more remunerative doctrine in supply and direct when he’s lured into business with his aged yeshiva classmate Efraim (Hill). A warm criminal artist with a wicked grin and “Scarface”-fueled delusions of grandeur, Efraim heads adult his possess company, AEY Inc., and has already done a tiny murdering peddling weapons to a U.S. military.

Much of Teller’s opening is consumed by a subplot involving David’s domestic woes, that include a neglected child and a submissive partner (Ana de Armas) who can no longer swallow his tide of lies. (Here, as in “The Hangover” movies, women are small some-more than pleasing scolds.) But then, David is only along for a float anyway as Efraim’s servant and foil, and as their two-bit operation starts to pulp around them, there’s an observable dim pleasure in saying Hill devolve into a whirly of egotistic peevishness and dishonesty, untethered to even a smallest bid for a audience’s sympathy.

It’s value observant that “War Dogs” was done but a appearance of a genuine Efraim Diveroli, who in May filed a lawsuit alleging that a filmmakers and Warner Bros. had wasted his life story. He has a point, if not indispensably a one he has in mind.


‘War Dogs’

MPAA rating: R, for denunciation throughout, drug use and some passionate references

Running time: 1 hour, 54 minutes


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