War, Inc.

Synopsis: Business Is Booming

When It Comes To War… America Means Business.

Recreating his role as a hitman, John Cusack gives a hilarious performance in War, Inc ., a political satire set in Turaqistan, a Country occupied by an American private corporation run by a former U.S. Vice President (Dan Aykroyd). In an effort to monopolize the opportunities the war-torn nation offers, the corporation’s CEO hires Hauser (Cusack) to kill a Middle Eastern oil minister. Now, struggling with his own growing demons, the assassin must pose as the corporation’s Trade Show Producer in order to pull off this latest hit, while maintaining his cover by organizing the high-profile wedding of Yonica Babyyeah (Hilary Duff), an outrageous Central Asian pop star, and keeping a sexy left-wing reporter (Marisa Tomei) in check.

War, Inc. 7.5

‘War, Inc.’ is a satirical take on the war in Iraq and the commercialisation of war. It follows a government agent, played effortlessly by John Cusack, as he goes undercover at a Middle East US military outpost in an effort to mask his true agenda: the assassination of an important Turaqistan Minister. As one can imagine, what with corporate and political interests being mixed together, not everything goes as planned. And then the bullets fly.

The commentary is spot-on, and much of what is seen onscreen is only a slight exaggeration of what has taken place in Iraq (see the documentary ‘The Control Room’ as reference) but it goes over the top – which dilutes the impact of the film. At times, it felt like one of those ’60s farces (Casino Royale, Candy, …etc), which is not always a good thing. However, it’s a much better film than they ever were. And at least it has a lot to say – even if sometimes its message was shouted instead of being delivered wryly.

I would have to say that the directorial choices are the weak link, here, as some elements would have been funny on paper but were set-up so improperly that subtlety was too-frequently tossed out the window – akin to blowing open a locked door with plastic explosive. Or using an air-to-air missile to pulverize a fly. Or Tasering someone multiple times after they’ve hit the ground. Or running over a peaceful demonstrator with a tank. Or nuking a country that doesn’t agree with you. Or…

(I know, I know. I should stop now. But that’s exactly my point: ‘War, Inc.’ sometimes doesn’t know which weapons to use in its arsenal – and at what times. And, thus, it’s not always funny – even if it damn well should be)

It was nice to see John and Joan Cusack together again, even if it’s to be expected now (as a side-note, John Cusack is becoming more bloated by the year and Joan Cusack is withering away visibly. Is she ill? I tried to find something about this online and couldn’t find any reference to cancer, anorexia or anything else). In ‘War, Inc.’, the pair essentially plays carbon copies of their characters in ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’ (in fact, John’s characters could be an older Martin Blank).

So it was hardly surprising to find Dan Aykroyd in the film as well – albeit, here, as a Dick Cheney-like figure instead of an irrationally ambitious hitman-for-hire. I can’t say that I’m a huge Aykroyd fan, but he was rather enjoyable in this role. Marisa Tomei, as always, was delightful and I don,t think I could ever tire of her. Sadly, the same can’t be said for Ben Kingsley and Hilary Duff – they were both a tad bit annoying, playing it too broadly for my tastes.

‘War, Inc.’ is a movie that I would have wanted to appreciate more: the comment that they were trying to make is timely and worthy of much discussion; even if things seemed absolutely ridiculous, if one is aware of the state of affairs in the world today, it was actually difficult to separate the comedy from reality. In my estimation, this movie should have been more akin to ‘Wag the Dog’, which brilliantly walked that fine line between commentary and satire.

Unfortunately, while trying to spotlight (and rightly ridicule!) the development and entrenchment of the corporate state around the world, they all too frequently used a roller to paint what should have been a minor masterpiece, and a modern classic.

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