Luckily for Judge Franck Tabouring, he's at war with nobody.
When it comes to war, America means business…
…and business is booming.
Facts of the Case
In Joshua Seftel's political satire War, Inc., John Cusack stars as Brand Hauser, a troubled hit man who's sent to Turaqistan to kill an influential oil minister. Unfortunately for him, things don't exactly work out the way he planned…
War, Inc. does to U.S. foreign policy and the Iraq War what American Dreamz did to American Idol and Hollywood: it ridicules everyone and everything involved. The film is definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but despite its flaws and often too obvious simplicity, there is something hysterical about its main intrigue that makes it quite entertaining.
The film is primarily set in Turaquistan, a Middle Eastern country occupied by a private American corporation run by no other than the former U.S. vice president (Dan Aykroyd). The actual government no longer deals with these international issues, and wars are fought by big corporations whose ultimate mission is to sell America as a brand to the rest of the world.
Cusack's character Brand Hauser serves as the ex-vice president's personal assassin, who takes care of anyone or anything that could be a potential threat to the United States. In order to successfully carry out his latest mission and eliminate an influential oil man, Hauser must pose as a show producer at a local Brand USA exposition, where he's in charge of setting up the wedding of Turaqi pop star Yonica Babyyeah (Hilary Duff). As if this weren't enough to deal with already, he also has to listen to the criticism of a left-wing journalist (Marisa Tomei), who pretty much hates everything about private enterprises there is to hate.
As confusing as all this may sound at first, it all starts to make better sense once you actually see the movie. War, Inc. may be a lot of things, but it's not that hard to follow. Essentially, the Seftler's film delivers a strong satirical look at the United States' determination to use whatever it takes to spread democracy around the globe. The decent script by Mark Leyner, Jeremy Pikser, and Cusack is clearly overloaded with satirical elements, some of which are funnier and more sophisticated than others.
Some examples: the former vice president talks to Hauser via video chat while sitting on his toilet, the tanks patrolling the streets carry large banner ads, and a local Popeye's Chicken restaurant has a secret bunker hidden in the back. Most of the dialogue is not so much intended to drive an actual story or develop any characters, but instead, most of it serves as yet another way to let viewers know they are definitely watching a war satire. Here's a sample from Hauser: "Business is a uniquely human response to a moral or cosmic crisis. Whether it's a tsunami or a sustained aerial bombardment, there's the same urgent call for urban renewal."
Yes, the overload of satire is annoying at times, and the humor in general could have been sharper. Still, there is something about War, Inc. that managed to capture my attention throughout. Maybe it's the desire to find out what happens to Hauser in the end. Maybe it's the film's big twist that is in fact quite predictable but makes the whole thing more interesting. Whatever it is, it's in there somewhere, and if you're interested in these crazy flicks and decide to give this one a try, you'll discover it for yourselves as well.
Although his character is rather shallow, John Cusack delivers yet another top-notch performance as lonely killer who drinks hot sauce to keep himself from going crazy. He's the perfect guy for this grim role, and he easily carries the film on his shoulders while stealing everybody else's shot to stand out. Marisa Tomei looks good and shares a passable chemistry with Cusack, but her character is simply not interesting enough to leave a long-lasting impression. Surprising, however, is Hilary Duff, who takes a break from starring as the cute girl getting in trouble to star as a sexy and provocative pop star who has a hard time seducing Cusack's character. Also appearing is Ben Kingsley, but his role is unfortunately too small to leave a mark.
The film's technical aspects are top-notch, and the excellent picture and sound quality on this disc make it a visually pleasing home entertainment experience.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There are absolutely no special features to play around with on this DVD, which is quite disappointing. I would have personally enjoyed a couple of interviews, a behind-the-scenes look, or a commentary to find out a little more about the film, but I guess you can't always get what you want, right?
While War, Inc. is certainly not a masterpiece, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the film's swift plot and Cusack's excellent performance. The lack of character development ultimately does some damage, but the absurdity of the main storyline makes the satire work.
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