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I thought this movie was a lot better than most movie critics are giving it credit for. Though it has its confusing parts of the plot, it doesn't greatly interfere with your understanding of the movie. That being said, If you're not open to more liberal political ideas, then this probably isn't the movie for you. I thought all the actors in the movie were outstanding. Each character has their funny moments and the audience at the Tribeca Film Festival was laughing throughout the whole thing. I thought the satire was a tad over the top in one particular area, but that's intentionally done. John Cusack is right in that although it's set in the future, it really makes you see the present.
Don't mistake "War Inc." for a sharply chiseled satire or a brainy
comedy full of inside jokes for news buffs. It isn't.
This is an old-fashioned screwball comedy, with ridiculously coincidental plot twists, stock characters (given some depth in fun performances by John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Marisa Tomei and Hillary Duff) and a straightforward approach to the political content.
You see, the filmmakers' political points are things nearly all of the country already knows are true. Yeah, we understand that the corporations profiting off the war are corrupt, inept pigs, the political leaders in charge of it are even more inept buffoons, and American imperialism has never looked crasser and more out of touch than it does right now -- but none of that is the point.
Here, all of that noise is the setting that they lampoon -- sometimes in genius ways -- as the backdrop for a silly romp, as John Cusack's character (the hit-man with a heart) tries to change his life with the help of the do-gooder journalist who doesn't trust him (Tomei) and the young Middle Eastern starlet who wants to call off her marriage (Duff). Cusack's sister, Joan, plays his assistant with an almost cartoonishly enthusiastic quality. Ben Kingsley seemed to me wasted in his smaller part as a ruthless CIA boss.
That's all, and it works. It's simple fun, but if somehow you can't see reality and you think the war is going well and everyone involved with it is doing a good job and there's no corruption and people in the Middle East wish our Western culture would supplant theirs, then you might not find it as funny.
For all the rest of us, it was a light comedy with a political edge.
Joshua Seftel's first film - a satire of memorable proportions - is
about just as the title suggests: The corporations effect on War.
The film is about a mercenary (John Cusack) traveling to Turaqistan (not a real country, fyi) to help the American government 'get their message across' to Turaqistan's leaders. He meets a reporter (Marisa Tomei) and we all know what will ensue with a lonely man + a hot reporter. Somewhere in the mix, a pop star named Yonica Babyyeah gets thrown in. As Yonica is marrying one of Turaquistan's most important people (a son of the president), a subplot is created where the mercenary must watch over this star, well, somewhat. The film starts off with a lonely Cusack in a bar; no more than fifteen seconds later, the film hooks you. With it's amusing and intriguing insight on terrorism and politics, the film's running time blows by you. The film has a lot more action than I expected, with the occasional scene of war, well choreographed fights and just sporadic scenes of murder. Though the story isn't much deep, the simplicity of it all makes the film perfect for both the common man and movie critics alike.
In the final act of the film, the simplicity of it all turns very hostile and jumbled. I thought it was executed very well, but other may disagree, and I could understand why. Twist after twist is what the ending is all about, and like most films, it is a true hit/miss situation. Regardless, the three writers on the film (Mark Leyner, Jeremy Pikser & John Cusack) did a fantastic job creating a realistic and entertaining satire on today's situation overseas.
Joshua Seftel does an excellent job insuring the film's integrity; not reducing the material to the most redundant of films (which I was afraid would happen). Seftel crafted the film as perfectly as one could: he created a vibrant atmosphere, one that is both examines harsh reality and cartoonish falsities; - contrasting them perfectly - as well as making the film feel as if you were watching it all. Seftel really gets you involved in all of the action and it pays off completely. No missteps here. Hopefully, he takes on more directorial jobs, for he is one director to look out for.
Let me start by saying that "War, Inc" is not everyone's cup of tea. It
is, however, very enjoyable (and gets you thinking - "Oh, crap"). The
comedy involved the film isn't obvious at all - it's quite subtle
(Tamerlane tanks, dry-cleaning service etc), and it changes with the
twists & turns in the plot.
I may be the only one, but I won't compare this with "Grosse Point Blank", because, it's different. John Cusack - I wouldn't say he was "amazing" or "brilliant" - but he was good. On the other hand, his sister (Joan Cusack) was incredible in her delivery of lines & comedic timing - even though she was hardly in the film (I'd say the same about Ben Kingsley).
Marisa Tomei plays a convincing reporter, and manages to pull it off. Hilary Duff is very commendable for her role as central Asian pop star Yonica Babyyeah. Duff's development as an actress is very noticeable in the film, and she does a very good job (even though her accent is a tad unreal).
Overall, the film is what I would call "entertaining". It doesn't have a particular storyline, and it's quite silly at times, but it does have a subtle message. I'd say it's worth a watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you agree with the political premise of this movie or you like John
Cusack, Marisa Tomei or Ben Kinsley you may enjoy this movie. But as
the satire it was obviously meant to be it is a huge misfire.
Despite a few funny moments, it breaks a basic rule of satire: believability. Watch Dr. Strangelove, M*A*S*H, or The Great Dictator and you'll notice that the main characters, while caricatures of varying degrees of preposterousness, the world in which they exist was made to be very real.
In War Inc. this is reversed. The primary characters are played seriously and we do care about them, but, with only a few exceptions, the environment in which they exist is played for laughs.
For example, the scene of the rehearsal of a Broadway musical dance number where the dancers are women with prosthetic legs who've been victims of the war but who've been "helped" by American medical technology. It's an idea of near-genius, but it's impact is almost entirely lost because the world in which it takes place isn't credible. There are the "Arab rappers" who are played as ridiculous idiots, but it comes off as a commentary on rappers and not American cultural influence. There are so many potentially great moments ruined because they aren't played seriously. The director just didn't understand comedy.
There are other mistakes. Much of this movie takes place in the protected compound "Emerald City". The movie brings us into what is intended to depict an orgy of American capitalist/corporate superficiality, but the movie fails to first sufficiently establish that it exists within a non-Western (Arabic) country. So instead of succeeding as a critique on American imperialism, we simply feel like we're in a weird theme park with no context.
Also, and this is potentially more serious for U.S. showings, there is the apparent portrayal of average soldiers. I don't know if this was intentional or not, but regular soldiers are shown as moronic, thugs and murderers. In one scene, which is one of those that's filmed realistically, soldiers machine gun innocent civilians. The soldiers have the corporate logos on their uniforms, perhaps meant to differentiate them as a "corporate" army. However, I think that is likely to be lost on many viewers and in a movie meant as criticism on the abuse of corporate power, denigrating the average American soldier, intentionally or not, seems a huge mistake.
And, perhaps this is minor, but Joan Cusak looks quite old in her first appearance in the movie. This was obviously not intended since she looks younger for the rest of the movie.
This is not a terrible movie but as a satire it's a mess.
I don't want to spend to long here rambling about the plot- you've seen the trailer, and if you haven't its online. I don't recommend seeing it though- it was poorly crafted and didn't pack any of the laughs or magic from the film. So those avoiding this film due to its lousy trailer should give this one a chance. It's really funny. I was blown away by the cleverness and originality in this film. The first 40 minutes had me on the floor in hysterics- my only problem was that it unnecessarily evolved into a bad Austin Powers film in the final 20. This however, is one of the few films where the campy ending didn't make me dislike the rest of the film (which is normally the case). Everyone gives a great performance (especially Joan Cusack) and there are some really great moments throughout. I personally plan on seeing it again when it comes out- only to catch all the details which I was laughing over during the first viewing!
In this satire of the commercialization and 'lightheartedness' of war,
John Cusack plays Brand Hauser, an assassin sent to to 'Turaqistan' to
take out Omar Sharif, who is doing some oil business that will spell
trouble for the former Vice President of the US's own company. In
addition to this, Hauser must juggle his fake position as a trade show
producer, a wedding for pop princess Yonica (Hillary Duff), and a nosy
Liberal journalist, Natalie (Marisa Tomei).
Assessing the technical aspects:
- The acting (by the main characters,at least) was good, as was to be expected. Some of John Cusack's dialogue was quite obviously not written for him as he often seemed uncomfortable saying it. . . maybe unrealistic is more accurate. Joan put forth a great, and often hilarious, performance. Marisa Tomei, while I've never been a big fan of hers, was more than suitable for the role and worked well. Hillary Duff, however, was pretty terrible. They needed an attractive Middle Eastern (or Russian, or whatever that accent was supposed to be) pop-star. Unfortunately, they went 0 for 3 with her.
- Like I said above, the writing seemed a little stiff and mismatched at points, especially John Cusack's dialogue. Not much of it, mind, but some. The story also got a bit ludicrous at points, which is fine for a satire to a point, but it took it to a whole new level here. Luckily, the Cusacks and Tomei keep a relatively cool, calm demeanor throughout, and that makes a nice even mix of the craziness of the film and the levelheadedness of the actors.
- Joshua Seftel, who previously had a drought of real credits to his name, did a fine job with a rather wide-spectrum film. He handled the small ($10 million) budget very well, stretching it to make it appear to be much more. Seftel also managed to nicely blend the humour of the story. . . with the painful and hard-to-watch parts of the real war (including slaughter of civilians, etc.).
- As far as the general satire goes, its exaggerated look on the commercializing of war is very well done, especially the 'Golden Palace Poker' ads on the U.S. tanks. At points, it becomes a little too much, but, in the end, it still accurate portrays what it's going for an a young 'Mel Brooks'-type of style.
Overall, the film is very well made for the meager budget and it's definitely worthy of a look. It won't go down as one of the great satires of cinema, but it's certainly not the worst.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The plot of this film might not be extraordinary, but what makes the
film really special, are its characters (and the actors who play them
of course!). I won't go into the details of the plot of the movie, but
I would certainly like to say this This film is not just for
everyone! The film is really witty and you need to be equally clever to
get all the satire. If you're not alert even for a second, you'll
probably end up missing one of the subtle points. The movie is full of
such seemingly trivial but witty stuff - like the announcements going
on in the background at Turaqistan, the advertisements on the tankers
(which I almost missed) and it are these that make the movie hilarious
Coming to the actors, John Cusack has played his multi-faceted role very efficiently (what with him being the co-writer and the producer too) and he plays his character Hauser, the killer with a heart exquisitely. Cusack's done a similar kind of role before in Grosse Pointe Blank, but his comic disposition in the movie is simply superb.
However the actress who steals all the show is Hilary Duff! I have always been a huge fan of Ms. Duff. But to be honest I was a bit disappointed when I heard about the kind of role she's playing in the movie. But after watching the movie the disappointment gave way to great respect for her as an actor. Let's face it! The kid's growing, but yes, so is her talent! All those critics, who shouted hoarse that Hilary cannot act, will be silent for a while. Hilary had to play a really complex character tough on the outside, yet a sweet child on the inside and she's done complete justice to it. She makes you laugh, and she makes you cry to cut the long story short ('cause I could go on raving about her for ever) she's BRILLIANT! Marisa Tomei and Joan Cusack have done a good job too. Especially, Joan's hysterics are uproarious! However, I was rather disappointed with Ben Kingsley being wasted in such a small role and his performance seemed lackluster.
In general War, Inc. keeps you on your toes throughout with its intelligent humor, and ends with just the right amount of twists in the plot. I would highly recommend this movie to all (and more so to Hilary Duff fans)!!! P.S. - I am really glad to hear the movie is going to break free of its limited release and release at other places soon!!!
this film needs to be seen. the truest picture of what is going on in the world that I've seen since Darwin's Nightmare. Go see it! and If you're lucky enough to have it open in your city, be sure to see it on the big screen instead of DVD. The writing is sharp and the direction is good enough for the ideas to come through, though hardly perfect. Joan Cusack is amazing, and the rest of the cast is good too. It's inspiring that John Cusack got this movie made, and, I believe, he had to use some of his own money to do it. It's a wild, absurd ride, obviously made without the resources it needed, but still succeeds. Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, SNL, even Bill Maher haven't shown the guts to say what this film says.
In War, Inc we find the logical extension of the current outsourcing of
all war-related activities we are currently doing in Afghanistan and
Iraq. If you are familiar with the antics of Halliburton, Kellogg,
Brown & Root and Blackwater overseas you are already halfway home to
fully appreciating the satire of Cusack's latest piece. Cusack plays a
corporate hit-man named Brand Hauser who finds himself in Turiquistan
organizing a trade show in the newly liberated country as his cover
while waiting to get access to his latest target. While there he finds
himself intrigued by the anti-establishment reporter played by Marisa
Tomei and pursued by the over-sexualized pop star played by Hilary
Duff. We are introduced to Hauser's past, which includes a tragedy that
has haunted him ever since and the corporate assistant named Marsha
Dillon who actually is running the entire operation for him (and played
hilariously by Joan Cusack). While some moments are played suitably
over the top, they aren't always the moments you expect and the little
touches often catch you by surprise. All the principals turn in solid
performances. Duff's accent comes and goes but otherwise she does a
very nice job and goes a long way to dispel her Disney image. Tomei is
funny but understated while the Cusack's own nearly every scene they
are in. To be fair, they are given good material. The writers turn in a
good script with enough twists and turns and visual gags to keep you
giggling throughout all the way to the predictable conclusion. In fact,
the predictability of the end is the only thing that keeps me from
rating it higher as the story twists and turns it's way to the expected
If you like your comedy broad and physical, there is probably not enough here to keep you interested the entire movie. On the other hand, if you like sly comedy and broad satire, this is for you.
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