Director: Todd Phillips
In Theaters: 08.19
I made a New Year’s resolution this year to stop watching as many movie trailers as possible, and it’s been going so-so thus far. I wish I had done that with Todd Phillips’ latest endeavor, because the trailers made me shuffle my feet into the screening. The advertisements make this project look like a fraternity bro’s wet dream, and, while some of that is true, the story itself is absolutely incredible. In 2008, David Packouz (Miles Teller) was a massage therapist in Miami with no direction in life. At a random encounter, he reunited with his childhood best friend, Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), and began selling weapons to the United States’ government. While bending the rules (and full-on breaking them at times) to beat the competition, the duo made mounds of cash while risking their lives in the Middle East. The story is a true rise and fall from glory that, at many times, is hard to believe actually occurred. Phillips shines a glorious light on the true meaning of war. According to Packouz, it’s not about patriotism or freedom—it’s all about money.
Whether you believe him or not, it’s hard to hear the facts of it costing $17,500 to arm one soldier, and that we spend $4.5 billion just for the tent’s air conditioning. That’s insane! Hill outshines Teller as a greedy psychopath only out for himself, but it’s Bradley Cooper who swoops in as the greatest arms dealer—for only 15 minutes of screen time, he absolutely steals the show. What makes this movie stand out is that it’s true. As you watch these events unfold on the screen, your mind has to remind you, “This actually happened,” and the finale will make you shake your head at the reality of the situation. It was refreshing to see the director of The Hangover franchise take a step outside his comfort zone and unveil a story so absurd that no one in Hollywood could make up. –Jimmy Martin