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Review: War Dogs and The Purge: Election Year

War Dogs (15, 114 mins)

By Damon Smith

Published 26/08/2016

On target: Jonah Hill and Miles Teller as arms dealers in War Dogs
On target: Jonah Hill and Miles Teller as arms dealers in War Dogs

The Hangover mastermind Todd Phillips' film opens with TV news footage from the war in Iraq.

"I see $17,000," explains massage therapist David Packouz (Miles Teller). "That's what it costs to outfit an American soldier."

Narrating his own extraordinary story, David introduces us to his wife Iz (Ana de Armas), with whom he hopes to raise a family by selling bed sheets to local care homes. His get-rich-quick scheme flops and at this low ebb, David meets his friend Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), who has discovered a website which lists contracts that the US military needs to be fulfilled. The buddies tender for a massive munitions contract with the help of infamous dealer Henry Girard (Bradley Cooper) and underbid by $53m. David travels to Albania to fulfil the contract, aided by his driver Bashkim (JB Blanc), who knows which palms to grease.

When David questions the morality of the business, Efraim immediately hits back. "This isn't about being pro-war," he counsels David. "It's about being pro-money." Bolstered by strong performances from the two leads War Dogs is an engrossing and frequently uproarious comedy of errors.

Three stars

Latest cull just a step too far

Eighteen years after her entire family was slaughtered on Purge night, Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is poised to narrowly win the 2022 Presidential election by campaigning on a promise to end the annual cull.

Her rival, Minister Edwidge Owens (Kyle Secor), is a firm believer in the Purge and has the full backing of the New Founding Fathers (NFF), the shadowy political hierarchy led by Caleb Warrens (Raymond J Barry). These men and women in tailored suits are distressed by the possibility of Roan winning over the electorate and they plot to eliminate her. "We are going to use this year's Purge to do some spring cleaning gentlemen," snarls Warrens. Meanwhile, as the 7pm siren approaches, hard-working shop owner Joe Dickson (Mykelti Williamson) and his assistant Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) have an ill-fated run-in with two thieving schoolgirls (Brittany Mirabile, Juani Feliz).

The Purge: Election Year is one hack 'n' slash too far for DeMonaco's neat premise. Plotting is flimsy and characters are thinly sketched, so we don't have a strong attachment to them.

Three stars

Belfast Telegraph

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