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War Dogs Film
Why I’m seeing it!
Okay, okay, I admit it. I have a thing for Bradley Cooper the Actor, and now that he’s been producing and starring in several of his latest films (American Sniper), I am interested in seeing his work as one of the Producers, and also switching from Good Guy to Bad Guy role.
Running time of 114 mins. Aspect ratio is 2.35:1 using Digital Intermediate 2K master format and ProRes 3.2K source format. Prints on D cinema. Rated R.
What is a War Dog?
Movie Definition: someone who makes money off of war without setting foot on the battlefield.
Real definition: someone who is eager to encourage a group of people or a nation to go to war.
My Kind of Movie
Okay, so call me an Action Adventure kind-of-girl, but I really like this genre. Sometimes, it’s formula, but ya know, it works! Especially when there’s a couple of military Humvee’s involved (as this is my favorite vehicle when off-roading)…
Here is the film synopsis:
- The Opening Sequence shows present day, where David is shoved to the ground, in the middle of an Albanian winter, wearing shorts and a short-sleeved teeshirt. He is being beat up pretty good by several Albanians, that he actually starts crying. The camera pauses, and switches to the next scene. This gets the story started! Why is he being beat up? Why is he wearing shorts and a T-shirt? What is he doing in the middle of an industrialized area in the cold weather? What’s going on? And How did he get there?
- Told by David’s narrative (Miles Teller), he lays out the story for the Movie Viewer, where he’s 22 years old and a licensed massage therapist in Florida (where Jonah Hill’s character Efraim Diveroli says: “He jerks guys off for a living.”). There is a small scene where he’s smoking an MJ stub, and the Police Officer warns him not to park here because “it’s a gated community. And, oh, you better not smoke that stuff either.” Cut to David giving his client a massage, where the towel “accidentally” slips away, and David knows that he’s getting tired of the massage business (even though “I make $75 an hour.”)
- His next plan is to sell nice Egyptian 400-thread cotton pillowcases to elderly residents at the Hilldale Senior Living Center, which is stacked in the corner of his living room since he “pre-ordered 65 cases and they can’t be sent back.” His girlfriend Iz (played by Ana deArmas) loves him, but can’t stand the stack of boxes lining the wall of their small apartment’s living room.
- The story changes because Iz finds out she’s pregnant and now David needs to make more money, in order to support them.
- Meanwhile, David meets Efriam at a Jewish funeral, and this is a reunion because “I haven’t seen him since high school. Boy, he looks tanned.”
- Efriam’s idea is to have David join him as a partner in the Arms Dealer business (as demonstrated by Efriam discharging a firearm in broad daylight when he can’t buy some weed).
- Efriam trains David for about 2 weeks, as his friend knows the business cold.
- They get in over-their-heads in Albania with the buying and trading of Chinese bullets to satisfy their U.S. government contract, and Mr. Hill’s playing of multiple sides of what the other characters would like to hear is quite good (“Let’s say we’re streamlining it.”)
- Amidst the Miami club scene (drugs, girls, sex) and Las Vegas scene (where David meets Henry Girard), these were crucial locations to move the story along. The story’s timeline occurred from 2005 to 2008.
So begins the Friends’ journey into the business of securing smaller-sized contracts with the U.S. government, and then David finally finds the largest contract to-date for $300 million that AEY Inc. bids on and is awarded the contract ("It was more than just crumbs, it was the whole f**king pie").
David and Iz’s relationship is tested throughout the film, even to the Ending, as David might be no different than Henry.
The friendship and loyalty is tested between David and Efraim, until both are arrested by the FBI, via wire tapping from Ralph Slutsky, Efriam’s business investor, “after all these years.”
Some of the major themes…
Irony – the life that both Friends find themselves leading, both in the States and Overseas (Albania, Iraq, The Triangle of Death).
The Rich Lifestyle – done well with Efriam and Henry’s wardrobe, hairstyle, and accessories. I think I’m having Miami Vice flashbacks here.
Doing business with people overseas whom you don’t know or trust.
Remember the ending to To Live and Die in LA? Where the younger protégé now becomes part of the Bad Guy’s operation (the first protégé was serving his time in jail, so the Bad Guy takes his friend into the business). The Movie Viewer is shown a long shot with Henry and David, sitting inside Henry’s condo. David asks two (pun intended) many questions, and Henry offers a suitcase of money and “no more questions.”
My take on it
It works as a real-life story!
I thought it was a nice journalistic touch to include 6 separators inside the film, noting the important quotables: “If I wanted you dead, you’d be dead.” It broke up the story and used as a motion device, it works!
During one of the scenes, when a recently hired employee asks Efriam “What does AEY stand for?” I figured it out! It’s YEA spelled backwards.
Thank you to the Casting Department for a fine job with offering:
- Mr. Teller - who plays naivete well. Alpha Hero (physically) but has Beta Hero personality, one nice punch to the Beta Hero inside the Elevator scene (!), and Rex Reid he’s not in this role.
- Mr. Hill - who plays Gangster-like character well, and a nice mix playing the Beta Hero (physically) but having an Alpha Hero personality. Paying homage to Scarface, with Mr. Al Pacino’s poster as wallpaper inside the office.
- Mr. Cooper – wearing Tinted shades, bloodshot eyes and unshaven look. (Really, does the Bad Guy wear shades *all* the time? Even indoors? Maybe he has Transition lenses…)
Very well done script! Albeit, how do you end a story like this one? Dialogue is very now, and real. Great delivery by all players.
- There were 3 military companies providing technical assistance, military vehicles and walkie-talkies.
- 6 major theatrical distribution areas (Argentina, Chile, Germany, France, Singapore and the US)
- Some of the countries who are viewing this film on August 19th include: Brazil, Hungary, Israel, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the USA. Philippines’’ release is scheduled for August 24th. It will debut in France on September 11th at the Deauville Film Festival, with theatrical distribution running into September 23rd.
- Jonah Hill was rumored to have gained a significant amount of weight to play the role of Efraim. The real Efraim Diveroli refused to meet with Mr. Hill, to which Mr. Hill’s response was “I’m used to it. If a person is aggressively against me playing them, it’s probably a good sign.” Meaning a good film experience!
- Other actors who were in consideration for the role included Jesse Eisenberg and Shia LeBouf.
- While in Production in Miami, the working title was called AK-47.
Cast & the Major Characters
Hilldale Home Manager
a few of the Production Credits
- Produced, directed and written by Todd Phillips.
- Producers include 5 EPs & 6 producers, with Guy Lawson’s Rolling Stones’ article “Arms and the Dudes” serving as the basis for the film.
- Based on the novel by Jason Smilovic.
- Screenplay also written by Stephen Chin.
- Casting was done in Morocco and Romania. Filmed in Casablanca, Morocco; Bucharest, Romania; Miami (FL); Las Vegas (NV); El Centro (CA) and other parts of the US.
Did you like the film?
As always, I let you decide if you would like to view the film. Until next time, Pam