Remember when you were in college, and there was that one professor who had really funny and interesting stories, but at the end of the class you never really learned anything? Such is the case with the new movie War, Inc.
(John Cusack) stars as Hauser, a hitman with a troubled past who likes to calm his nerves with a straight shot of hot sauce. Given the alias of a trade show producer he is hired by Tamerlane, a war profiteering company headed by (Dan Aykroyd) that now occupies the battle scarred country of Turaquistan. Hauser’s target is Omar Sharif , Tariquistan’s oil minister who wants to build a pipeline through the country. This of course would cause a million dollar revenue loss for Tamerlane, so he has to go. Sent to help Hauser is Marsha Dillion, (Joan Cusack) a temperamental executive who has the inside info on all of the cleverly disguised tradeshow booths and show numbers.
If things weren’t strange enough already, along come two lovely young women who complicate Hauser’s life even further. The first is Natalie Hagelhuzen, (Marisa Tomei), a feisty left wing reporter who just wants to unravel the truth behind whats really going on. Then there’s Yonica Babyyeah, (Hilary Duff) a extremely flirtatious central Asian pop star who’s Celebrity wedding is the icing on the cake of the trade show. Torn between doing his job, falling in love, and haunted by memories of his past including a clearly psychotic boss (Ben Kingsley). Hauser sets out to make things right. But in war, nothing ever turns out the way you expect it to.
This isn’t a big budget summer movie so don’t go expecting to see incredible CGI effects. The war scenes are real enough but most of the action takes place on more personal level. Also, I ‘m not saying they didn’t try, but some of the location shots feel makeshift. However, If you are a fan of Wag the Dog or anything that has the feel of Billy Wilder films then this will be right up you alley.
It’s not that War, Inc.isn’t thought provoking or entertaining because it certainly has those moments. From a Popeye’s chicken restaurant that serves as a secret military hideaway to receiving your dry cleaning in an armored Hummer, the marketing puns are evident and well received. Humorous standout performances from Joan Cusack and Sir Ben Kingsley prove once again that in the hands of great actors, there are no small parts. John Cusack handles his character well enough, but it feels as though he’s channeling Martin Blank from 1997’s Grosse Pointe Blank. (It is of important note that the previous sentence was extremely difficult to write as I am an avid John Cusack fan) Moving on.
This film doesn’t try to push politics down your throat and through biting satire it cleverly manages to show the absurdity of war profiteering. But in the end we are left with a plot twist that leaves to many things unsaid, and an unclear direction of where the filmmakers were trying to go. However, maybe they’re leaving it up to us to decide. Perhaps there is no larger message here. It could just be as simple as War is ridiculous, no matter how you look at it.