Scorsese teaches these Dogs old tricks.
It’s a testament to what Martin Scorsese managed to achieve with his masterpiece Goodfellas that subsequent filmmakers have been able to apply other true crime stories to the fundamental filmic template of that film, and the result has always – and perhaps always will be – at least somewhat arresting.
The most recent film to embrace the format is War Dogs. That format meant a lot in the hands of Scorsese, before it ever was a format. In the hands of lesser filmmakers there is a lot of flinging of flamboyant cinematic techniques, such as jump cuts, freeze frames, etc, at the screen. War Dogs is the least energetic film to ever adopt such a plethora of energetic touches.
The story, which is mostly fabricated on the back of what might have been fascinating fact, follows Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) and David Packouz (Miles Teller). They’re childhood friends, now in their twenties. They’re also drug runners, exploiting a governmental initiative that allows small businesses to bid on U.S. military contracts.
War Dogs is diverting and entertaining, but that has more to do with Scorsese’s triumph, which was 26 years ago, than any success on the part of director Todd Phillips. You’ve seen this rise and fall story before. You know how it ends. You also know how it begins, and what happens in the middle.
In cinemas: August 18, 2016
Starring: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Steve Lantz
Directed by: Todd Phillips