Directed by Joshua Seftel.
Written by John Cusack, Mark Leyner and Jeremy Pikser.
Starring John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Hilary Duff and Ben Kingsley.
Release Year: 2008
Review Date: 6/11/08
Let's just say it--you don't fuck with the
classics, especially movies that you, yourself, appeared in.
So, note to John Cusack--making a spiritual cousin to "Grosse Pointe
Blank" was a bad idea from the jump, even if your movie was a
dead-on sequel to a cult classic.
"War, Inc."--featuring Cusack as a former
CIA killer who now contracts himself out to the highest bidder--is
supposed to be a combination political satire, black comedy, action
film and faux psychological drama/revenge thriller, but on none of
those levels does the film work. That's because it's at times
strangely violent (like, the eye-getting-poked-out variety, or the
bad-guy-gets-crushed-in-a-trash-compactor variety), vaguely
romantic, an indictment of our war with Iraq--or really, any war of
the last fifty years, for that matter--and a flashback film that
covers the loss of the wife of Cusack's character. In between,
the comedy isn't that good, Marisa Tomei is made strangely unsexy,
Hilary Duff plays a Middle Eastern pop singer (I have no idea how to
explain this other than to say..."Hilary Duff plays a Middle Eastern
pop singer") and Dan Aykroyd shows up to play a former vice
president in two essentially throwaway scenes.
Because Cusack is essentially playing a hit
man again, and Joan Cusack shows up as his partner in crime (again),
and this is supposed to be an action-comedy with a political
backdrop as its one change, you'll feel like this is the B-side of
"Grosse Pointe Blank" right away. The major change is that
"War, Inc." is so awful it will make you run home and watch the DVD
of "GPB" again just to remind yourself of why you quietly hope
Cusack will somehow become either a major box office star or at
least a decent actor, but then you catch yourself, because you know
that it will never happen, especially since for every "GPB", Cusack
plays himself in one or two other dogs like "Con Air" or "America's
Sweethearts." Cusack has been working in films for nearly 25
years ("Sixteen Candles" was out in freakin' 1984...wow), but why is
he not any better, or any more charismatic, or any better of a
writer, or any more popular? Is it possible to be a 30- or
40-year veteran and headline films and still never be great?
Maybe it is, because "War, Inc." is a major
disappointment, given its cast and possibilities with the subject
matter. Meg said it best on the way out of the theater--it was
like the script was written by a bunch of guys over pizza and beer
one night, and someone actually decided to use that as the shooting
script...bad move. Did I mention that Hilary Duff is playing a
Middle Eastern pop singer?
Rating: Hard Vice
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard