Quick Movie Review: War, Inc. (2008)

War, Inc. is a strange duck of a film. It’s set kind of in the future with self-flying personal jets and futuristic cars, but still references to current pop culture elements. It feels like it’s trying really hard to be a satire on US capitalism and it’s intended spread to the Muslim world, but an unbalanced tone makes the whole thing just feel goofy and silly. There’s some cool ideas about technology and society, but the ending is filled with so many old hat tropes that I half expected the whole thing to end with “it’s all a dream.”

I decided to check this movie out because I’m a big John Cusack fan (starting with High Fidelity and Grosse Pointe Blank and then moving back to his older movies like One Crazy Summer and Better Off Dead. And it definitely has that typical Cusack charm and unassuming swagger, but it suffers from an all-over-the-place script and way too many comparisons to his other hitman movie, Grosse Pointe Blank.

The story finds Cusack, a hitman, heading to the small Mid Eastern country of Turaqistan that’s basically run by a US corporation. I don’t remember who he’s supposed to kill and honestly it doesn’t really matter because, much like in GPB, he gets wrapped up with a girl (Marissa Tomei) and a younger girl (Hilary Duff playing a pop star). Lots of nonsense goes on, some cool character bits, a few fun reveals of what this new world is like and some great performances by Joan Cusack (playing pretty much her character from GPB) and Duff (who really surprised me with some depth).

As I said, though, the movie winds up being really unbalanced. There’s a good deal of commentary in the film in that heavy handed the way that movies written or made during the Bush Administration tended to be, but the cartoony goofiness at the very end winds up making the whole thing feel kind of like a light weight/half-copy mess. I think the actors elevated the material, but they can only do so much without an actually solid script to make sense, make you think and make you laugh.