War, Inc.
If this is war, I surrender.

Theatrical Release Date: 05/23/2008
Director: Joshua Seftel
Cast: John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Marisa Tomei, Hilary Duff, Ben Kingsley

I will start this review off with a disclaimer: Your not so humble reviewer adores John and Joan Cusack; she will shamelessly enjoy anything they are in. With that said, we can now continue on with the review.

When I first watched the trailer for this movie, I got the very distinct impression that War Inc. was to be a sequel to Grosse Pointe Bank. They both star John Cusack (“Better off Dead”, “Say Anything”, “1408”) as an ex C.I.A. agent who currently works as an independent contract assassin with Joan Cusack (Toys, Addams Family Values) as his assistant – taking his calls, ordering his guns, making sure the kill is performed to the client’s specifications – you know, standard operating procedure for an administrative assistant.

Sprinkle in some Dan Ackroyd (“Ghostbusters”, “Sneakers”) for good measure and you have yourself a hit two times over. At least that was my hope. And I am pleased to inform you, dear reader, of two things: 1. “War Inc.” is definitely not a sequel, think of it instead as a throw back to old studios when you used the same group of actors to knock out reliably good films, and 2. it is a very entertaining movie and well worth the rental if not outright owning.

While most of the pieces do fit into place for “War Inc.” as a sequel, the main character Brand Hauser is a much darker character than Martin Blank, drinking hot sauce like vodka, bemoaning his long dead family and morosely reliving his disastrous exodus from the C.I.A in which he had to kill his boss, played by Ben Kingsley. Once you get past the intermittent flashbacks you can enjoy the true beauty of this story – a dark satirical comedy that incorporates elements of “Dr. Strangelove”, “Starship Troopers”, and Monty Python.

Brant Hauser is sent to Turaquistan, a country currently in the middle of US occupation, in order to kill the Oil Minister, Omar Sherif. He is being sent by the former Vice President (Dan Ackroyd) who also happens to own the company that the US government has outsourced this war to, Tamerlane. Hauser’s cover is the Chair of Tamerlane Trade Mission and heads up the business conference Tamerlane is hosting in Turaquistan’s Emerald City.

He must insure that Sherif dies, the conference is a success and that the marriage of the Emerit’s son to Middle Eastern pop star Yonica Babyyeah (Hilary Duff) goes without a hitch. In the process of trying to complete his mission he becomes enamored with a political reporter, Natalie Hegalhuzen (Marisa Tomei), who stands for everything he doesn’t. As Hauser wins Hegelhuzen over and comes to find the real person within Yonica Babyyeah (I really do love that name) his long lost conscience emerges from the depths. With his renewed morality he attempts to set things right and that is when everything hits the proverbial fan. This is also where the story gets a little predictable, so I really can’t tell you anymore without spoiling it.

The comedy is witty and dry just like my first husband, complete with tanks emblazoned with multiple sponsor decals and each and every hotel and restaurant is a pathetic homage to US stereotypes. As alluded to earlier, there are moments that harken back to the classic over-the-top nightmare comedy “Dr. Strangelove”. One scene containing a US Official in a wheelchair repeatedly attempting to bum rush the totally unimpaired Hauser had me in stitches.

While the story does get pretty predictable and at times can be mildly uninteresting especially when Hillary Duff is on screen, the comedy presented through environment and acting make it entertaining enough for me to offer “War Inc.” a solid 3 out of 5. If nothing else, it serves as an interesting political commentary; so remember kids when it comes to war, America means business.