War, Inc. Movie Review
As in Grosse Point Blank, Cusack plays a world-weary hit man, Brand Hauser, who works for a Halliburton-inspired international corporation that has just completed a contract on the first 100-percent outsourced road in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Turaqistan. The head honcho of the corporation is the ex-Vice President (Dan Akyroyd on a toilet) who orders Hauser into Turaqistan to assassinate the chief Turaqistani minister, Omar Sharif (Lyubomir Neikov). Omar plans to one-up the corporation by installing his own oil pipeline in competition, and the corporation will have none of that. Hauser arrives under cover as the head of the Brand USA Trade Show, where he is responsible for a big gala extravaganza starring Yonica Babyyeah (Hilary Duff in a change of pace role as a sexy, slutty Britney Spears clone; at one point she moans pointedly after dropping a scorpion down her pants). Also on hand in Turaqistan is Natalie Hegalhuzen (Marisa Tomei), a Nation-esque reporter who immediately rubs Hauser the wrong way. Could this be love?
First-time director Joshua Seftel over-stirs this burlesque brew and flattens out the fizz. Both Seftel and Cusack keep looking over their shoulders making sure to mine the tale for heart and soft touches to counteract the nastiness. But for any lacerating satire to work, the filmmakers can't make nice and be afraid of offending anyone -- they have to square their jaws and drive headlong through the fiery cacophony. There is no denying the passion, but Cusack/Steftel can't see the forest for the trees. When the story develops, it is not so much about Turaqistan but about Hauser and Natalie falling in love and Yonica (in a head-revolving plot twist) reinventing herself as a child in a nuclear family (when Yonica sings "I'm Gonna Blow You Up," she does, but not in a violent sense, more like Ozzie and Harriet).
War, Inc. hums in the throwaway moments that should have been the main event -- tanks barrel down war ravaged streets advertising Popeye's Fried Chicken, a kick line of double amputees kick up their prosthetics to "New York, New York," a hooded cab driver has a photo ID also with a hood over his face, reporters partake of a Turaqistan War theme park ride to experience brutal combat the Disney World way. But the film constantly diverges from what is wants to be and gets wound up in nonsensical subplots (a plot to sell a video of Yonica's wedding night; details on Hauser's past) that devolve into a grab-bag free-for-all conclusion that would make the most politically liberal viewer turn reactionary.
War, what is it good for?
Cast & Crew
Director : Joshua Seftel