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War, Inc. Film Review

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John Cusack as Mercenary on Mission to Kill Middle East Oil Minister

In the not too distant future, if it hasn’t already transpired, mega-corporations might replace nations as the world’s most powerful political entities. This is the state of affairs contemplated by War, Inc., a sophisticated satire directed by Joshua Seftel (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy).

The story reads like a logical extension of what some cynics say we have unfolding in Iraq, as it revolves around the efforts of a former U.S. Vice-President (Dan Aykroyd) to monopolize the economy of a mythical war-torn country, Turaqistan, on behalf of Tamerlane, an American company to which he has close ties. This scenario amounts to a thinly-veiled allusion to Dick Cheney’s ostensibly engineering lucrative no-bid contracts in Iraq on behalf of Halliburton and its subsidiaries.

The fun starts soon after the ex-VP hires a mercenary, Brand Hauser (John Cusack), to kill Omar Sharif (Lyubomir Neikov), no, not the actor, but a Middle East oil minister representing Tamerlane’s primary competitor. Hauser is a burnt out hit man in need of a break, having just come from an assignment where he had to waste a bunch of beer-swilling Germans in a bar.

Upon arriving in Turaqistan, he is ushered into Emerald City, a heavily-fortified sanctuary suspiciously similar to the Green Zone. There, he is given a position with Tamerlane and a secretary (Joan Cusack) to provide a cover for his real reason for his being in the region. While awaiting an opportunity to eliminate Omar, he divides his time between wooing a leftist American journalist (Marisa Tomei) and planning the wedding of Central Asia’s current singing sensation, Yonica Babyyeah (Hilary Duff).

Like a campy cross of Dr. Strangelove and Wag the Dog, this celluloid anti-war screed serves up a mesmerizing melange of action, romance, slapstick, intrigue, gore, sentimentality, sensuality and sleight of hand when not offering pointed insights about the dire prospects for a corporatized planet. Fortunately, front man John Cusack’s face has finally matured to the point that it no longer has that boyish look about it. His ever-underrated sister, Joan, turns in one of her trademark nonpareil performances, and not to be outdone are either Marisa Tomei or the barely-recognizable Hilary Duff in her capacity as a musical Muslim moll.

As humorous as it is thought-provoking, War, Inc. is chock full of memorable moments, perhaps the best being the hand-to-hand showdown in the belly of a garbage truck between our reluctant hero and a worthy adversary (Ben Kingsley). Ever seen a villain trash compacted into submission?

A preposterous, impossible to pigeonhole spoof which somehow satisfactorily adds up to more than the sum of its seemingly incompatible parts.

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for violence, profanity and brief sexuality.

Running time: 107 minutes

Studio: First Look Studios

Kam Williams is a popular and top NewsBlaze reviewer, our chief critic. Kam gives his unvarnished opinion on movies, DVDs and books, plus many in-depth and revealing celebrity interviews.

Sadly, Lloyd Kam Williams passed away in 2019, leaving behind a huge body of work focused on America’s black entertainment community. We were as sad to hear of his passing as we were overjoyed to have him as part of our team.

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