Tuesday, August 9, 2011

War, Inc. (2008)

     Satire shouldn't be that hard.  John Cusack had a minor hit with Grosse Point Blank (1997) where he portrayed a hitman fighting some inner conflicts; that film attempted to send up the overblown combats of hitman movies while still indulging in them.  In War, Inc. (2008), Cusack tries on the same type of character and gives him the same kinds of internal debate (Cusack is a co-writer).  Part Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Love the Bomb (1964) – itself a largely overloved film – part light revenge movie, and not enough bite, War, Inc. is chronically uneven and mostly not entertaining.  It cannot deliver the bite that Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (2006; brief review found here) and perhaps assumes the audience is familiar enough with how the U.S. government outsourced operations in the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts; likely, people who know this don't find the material suitable for a comedy and would feel underwhelmed by the half-assed attempt at satire presented here.
     What does War, Inc. have going for it?  Cusack still is entertaining as a mild-mannered ass-kicker.  Marisa Tomei looks good and has some decent lines (but the character gets dumber as the movie goes on).  Hillary Duff looks somewhat alien as sex symbol Yonica Babyyeah, and in a way that kind of works.  But Dan Akroyd and (Sir) Ben Kingsley are lead weights that drag what little enjoyment there may be out of the scenes in which they appear.  War, Inc. wasn't the worst movie I've seen recently – do I really need to review Heather Graham and James Purefoy in Blessed (2004) just to tell you to avoid it? – but it is somehow below a real professional effort. 

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