A Terrible Swing and a Miss
2016 is officially the year of missed opportunities for cinema. From lackluster sequels to sequels that were good with bad marketing strategies to now, original ideas that simply can't deliver the message they are trying to convey. War Dogs had a great chance to be a scathing story on the early days of the messy Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq. It had a chance to be a scathing story on the ridiculous systems put in place by Cheney and the Pentagon that created these low balling arms dealers. But instead, what do we get? A bro tale of two white dudes taking on the system. Because ya! We've never seen that before! This was a story that was tossed underhand to freaking Mickey Mantle, and then Mickey Mantle just swung right through it.
Now there are a ton of problems with this film, which I'll get to, but first let's talk about what I liked. Despite telling this story in a terrible way, the story itself is still fascinating. I did not know that there was a procurement system like this in play during the middle and later half of the Iraq War that the government used for its arms deals in Iraq. This pretense is hugely fascinating, and I definitely want to do more research on this now because of this film. But, like I said, this was the underhand pitch that we got, but where we should've gotten this, we got this. The other good part of this film is Bradley Cooper. Even though his character makes NO SENSE and I don't even think exists in real life at all, and if he is I'm pretty sure he's of a different ethnicity which means this is another example of whitewashing, it's still nice to see Bradley Cooper be, well, not terrible for a change. Cooper received my worst actor of 2015 award, (which you can revisit here) but he seems to have taken that to heart (ha) and has turned it around, at least a bit, here in War Dogs. But, he's only barely in this film, and pretty much everything else here falls flat on its face.
Alright, so, where to begin? Yes! This film is so. On. The. Nose. From a Miles Teller vioce over that goes throughout the ENTIRE film and explains EVERYTHING to us to the freaking musical selections, it was as if this film was trying to explain its story to a bunch of 2 year olds. Oh! So the musical selections. I kind of let this go with Suicide Squad, also made by Warner Brothers, but WB seems to have this idea that all you need to do with your musical selections nowadays is just have a bunch of pop music in your film that people recognize and you're good. There is absolutely ZERO thought process behind any of these musical selections, and they are all extremely on the nose. Like having our first shots of the American military be with "Fortunate Son" playing in the background. Because we've NEVER heard that song play behind our military before in a film, right? Guys. Seriously. Take a page out of Martin Scorsese and David O. Russell's playbook when it comes to effectively using pop music in your film. It's not THAT hard it just requires going a bit more deeper than surface level. It was just so cliched! Basically, this film falls flat on its face because of an absolutely abysmal script. I still don't know how to classify this film. Is it a comedy? A satire? A drama? An action film? I HAVE NO IDEA. Are we supposed to hate our two frat bro "heroes" who want to take the power back and stick it to the man and have immense success until it all falls apart? I have no idea. Heck I barely even understood that sentence. Kind of like this film.
If you haven't figured it out yet, I thought this film sucked. This was director Todd Phillips first foray out of comedies and into a "drama" (which is what I've decided to call it) and, after watching this, all I can say is "Wow. Go back to making comedies please." Because this is a story that should've been in Oscar talk for this year, but instead it's going to likely find itself on a list it does not want to be on later this year. What a wasted opportunity.
In other news, MAN has it been a TERRIBLE year for Warner Brothers.....
The Critique: A home run premise squandered, War Dogs leaves much to be desired in nearly every department and will likely find itself labeled as one of the worst films of 2016.
The Recommendation: You yearn for me to say: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE
The Verdict: 2/10 Garbage