Deep at its core, the Dogs of War isn't a horrible experience. However, there is one fatal flaw, that drags it down. In the 1st act of the film, Jamie Shannon (Walken) is hired by a business tycoon to assess the political situation in an African country. His job is to determine whenever the local dictator can be overthrown.
He learns, that the despotic ruler hides in the garrison and decides to sneak his way in after dark. When he approaches the barracks, one of the guards ambushes him. They struggle for a while, soon Shannon manages to disarm his foe and subdue him. We then cut to our protagonist sleeping in a comfy bed in his hotel room. The next angle reviles the enemy soldiers surrounding the bed. Their commander gives them an order. We then cut to a prison complex.
This situation begs the question. What happened to the rest of the camp scene explaining, how did Shannon wind up in his bed? Did Shannon learn anything at the camp? Was he even able to get inside? What made him go back to the hotel? Last time we saw him, he got his way out of trouble and there was no indication of anybody else spotting him.
The editors did a poor job on this film, fortunately this is the only instance, where it creates a plot hole. Camerawork showcases the true lack of experience. Most scenes are shot without much though and could use some effective angles.
However there is a bright side. Story telling is decent, although pacing is uneven. Shannon's reunification with his ex-wife adds to the character's struggles, but slows the story down for no payoff. The second act feels like reading a novel. To the film's credit, it fostered storytelling far better than 1968 Italian Job. It takes its time to show us all the preperations Shannon makes.The only setback is the pace again, a few of those dialog scenes could have been left out of the final cut. The climax is your average shooting gallery, with not much to get excited about. Despite this, the very last scene at the president's office is something to look forward to.
The main character is the movie's redeeming quality. Shannon is haunted by unpleasant memories of past assignments and a wrecked marriage. A trip to Africa morphs the egotistical Jamie into a man willing to put his life at stakes once again.
Walken's performance is believable, especially in the few scenes with JoBeth Williams. However the script drops the ball on the rest of the characters, they seem to be coming and going without proper introduction. They exist on screen as wallflowers, while Christopher Walken gets all the attention. His performance is the only memorable one.
Overall, The Dogs of War is an ok movie, but it never works outside its own box. Making it as ordinary as it gets.
Verdict: Skip it.