A savage, tediously exaggerated “Saturday Night Live” lampoon that misfires.
Actor/writer/producer John Cusack is an outspoken liberal and vehemently opposed to the war in Iraq. Yet his political views skew his common sense in this mind-bogglingly awful satire set in a Middle Eastern country that’s been invaded and occupied by a Halliburton-like corporation called Tamerlane.
Turaqistan – the mythical site of “the first war ever to be 100% outsourced to a private enterprise” – is now run by a former U.S. vice-president (Dan Aykroyd) whose resemblance to Dick Cheney is not coincidental.
In the midst of a militarized trade show, a troubled, Tabasco-swilling mercenary, Brand Hauser (Cusack), is hired to assassinate a troublesome oil entrepreneur, Omar Sharif (played by the actor Omar Sharif). Hauser’s cover is working as producer for an Americanized Central Asian pop star, Yonica Babyeah (Hilary Duff), whose resemblance to Britney Spears is also not coincidental. And poking her nose into everybody’s business is a crusading American reporter, Natalie Hegalhuzen (Marisa Tomei).
As a writer, Cusack and his “Grosse Pointe Blank” cohorts, along with director Joshua Seftel, don’t know the meaning of subtlety when it comes to profiteering – like having an intelligence agency hidden inside a Popeye’s Chicken, as cheery amputees dance around, assisted by Tamerlane technology, and their take on “embedded” journalists’ resembles an amusement park “battle zone” thrill ride.
Unlike effective political satires (i.e. “Wag the Dog,” “Primary Colors,” “Bulworth”), this has little going for it but snickering – and celebrity spotting. Cusack’s sister Joan pops up as Marsha Dillon, his hysterical undercover secretary, and Ben Kingsley channels “Dr. Strangelove” as Walken, Hauser’s spymaster who winds up as a quadriplegic.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “War Inc.” is an over-the-top 2. It’s a savage, tediously exaggerated “Saturday Night Live” lampoon that misfires.