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War Dogs 2016 ***

A lightweight variation on The Wolf of Wall Street, Todd Phillips’ drama is short on comedy, but tells an interesting shaggy-dog story that might rival Jordan Belfort in terms of entrepreneurial bragging. Unsuccessful linen salesman David Packouz (Miles Teller) is swept up in the wake of Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), who masterminds a process of bidding for munitions contracts and gets them deep behind enemy lines in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Like Wolf of Wall Street, there’s little airtime given to the complications created, or the deadly consequences, but War Dogs is content to be a romp, a tall story about two daft Americans who get way over their head as they attempt to syphon cash out of geo-political conflict. Teller is pallid compared to his Whiplash turn, but Hill steals ever scene he’s in as the Scarface-obsessed wheeler-dealer, a wide-eyed and energetic performance which saves the film over and over again.

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