Running Time 107 minutes
Written by Mark Leyner, Jeremy Pikser and John Cusack
Directed by Joshua Seftel
Starring John Cusack, Dan Aykroyd, Joan Cusack, Marisa Tomei, Hilary Duff
It gets worse. The Indiana Jones movie is a disappointment. But a moronic mess called War, Inc. is a downright disaster. Obviously, John Cusack’s capacity for self-destruction knows no limitations. He hasn’t made a movie anyone could sit through for too many years to count, yet his alleged career soldiers on through one flop after another. With all due respect, War, Inc. might be the last straw.
In a deadly political satire designed to show the apocalyptic aftermath of George Bush, the clueless Mr. Cusack plays Brand Hauser, a former C.I.A. operative turned terminator-cum-showbiz-mercenary; he works for Tamerlane, a corrupt corporation run by a former U.S. vice president, played by Dan Aykroyd, who conducts interviews on the toilet while describing his bowel movements. (Think Dick Cheney and Halliburton. On second thought, don’t.) Tamerlane is devoted to the exploitation of the U.S.-conquered country of Turaqistan. Mr. Cusack has been dispatched to assassinate a trouble-making oil tycoon named Omar Sharif, who looks and sounds like Henry Kissinger, in the middle of a trade show that takes place inside a Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits franchise. Turaqistan is one of the many countries the U.S. has invaded, destroyed and turned over to corporations that run the world. Mr. Cusack can’t find it in his spaceship, and you should hear his instructions: “Stay on this heading for about six hours, thirteen minutes. Turn left at the Aurora Borealis. When you see something that looks like a frozen gall bladder, that’s Greenland. Hang a soft right there.” You have to see it to believe it, although my advice is cross the street and keep on going.
Once he connects with his hysterical robot of an assistant (played by his criminally wasted sister, Joan Cusack), Mr. Cusack dodges terrorist gangs, machine guns and dangerous American soldiers who have been in the trenches so many years they’ve gone insane, and tours the trade show where the press is injected with painful microchips to “reduce the danger of journalism mortality.” Between demonstrations of the latest automobiles equipped with precision-guided missiles and musical numbers with war amputees doing the cancan with prosthetic limbs, he gets distracted by a crusading reporter named Natalie Hegalhuzen (Marisa Tomei), whose answering machine belches, “I’m either unmasking corporate greed or washing my hair—so leave a message!” She’s determined to expose U.S. involvement in the Middle East as a violation of international law, but her contribution is really nothing more than a violation of what would be, in saner times, the dignity of a former Academy Award winner. Hanging out without a sign of direction, there is also the hopelessly miscast Hilary Duff as a pop singer named Yonica Babyyeah, the Britney Spears of Central Asia, who bares her breasts and sings songs about sex while erotically licking a gasoline pump nozzle. Yes, War, Inc. pretends to aim for loftier goals, like sending up alleged crimes like American war-profiteering, unconstitutional invasion of international boundaries, the trashing of the Geneva Convention, and government-sponsored terrorism, but it achieves no significance whatsoever. None of it is clever enough or well thought out enough to trigger any controversy, and none of it is remotely comprehensible. I threw in the towel when the Asian Spice Girl, surrounded by sandbags and bodyguards, started singing “I want to blow you … I want to blow you … blow you up!” and Mr. Cusack yelled, “Get me Katie Couric, Al Jazeera, and 100 gallons of sheep shit!” Mr. Cusack contributed to the screenplay and co-produced this abomination, so he cannot be excused on grounds of temporary insanity.
War, Inc. was non-directed by Joshua Seftel, who is to film direction what Marvel Comics is to classical literature. It was filmed in Bulgaria—and they should never have allowed it out of the country.