War Inc. is a surreal, darkly satirical look at the intersection of militarism and mass merchandising; partially inspired by Naomi Klein’s 2004 article Baghdad Year Zero.

Cusack’s melancholy hit man from Grosse Point Blank, Brand Hauser, has been sent by his new employers, the Tamerlane Corporation, to the fictional desert country of Turaqistan. His job: To assassinate a rival CEO. His cover: Organizer of the "Freedom’s on the March" trade show, which is busy selling Tamerlane products (including Pimp Your Ride rocket launchers) to the masses as riots break out across the country.  The logic of the trade show is the logic of  the neocon’s crass capitalism:

Look, we’ve already kicked the shit out of this place. What are we supposed to do? Turn our backs on all the entrepreneur possibilities? Business is a uniquely human response to a moral or cosmic crisis. Whether it’s a tsunami or a sustained aerial bombardment, there’s the same urgent call for urban renewal.

Hauser must also oversee the wedding of Central Asian pop star to the scion of Turaqistan’s propped up leader in order to create a commercial image blending modern pop feminism and Middle Eastern tribal tradition.

But the hot sauce swilling killer wasn’t planning on a crisis of faith prompted by falling in love with a liberal journalist Natalie Hegalhuzen (Marisa Tomei), nor with developing fatherly feelings for the spoiled spacey singer Yonica Babyyeah, played by Hillary Duff.  Nor is he ready to deal with the problems surrounding Yonica’s wedding, including a planned porn tape of their wedding night and Natalie’s kidnapping by extremists.

Duff takes a deft turn against her pure Lizzy McGuire character, while Dan Aykroyd plays a Dick Cheney-esque former VP now running Tamerlane. Ben Kingsley is slimy as Walker, Hauser’s CIA instructor, and Joan Cusack plays Hauser’s designer-suit wearing assistant Marcia with sharp, hammy intensity.

There are sight gags aplenty; plus larger jokes like the implanted journalists’ daily meetings, with microchips chips implanted to simulate the adventures, and a chorus line fitted with Tamerlane prosthetics. The dialogue is smart and snappy, the jokes sometimes broad, sometimes razor sharp; but always cutting, as Brand suffers with his conscience, duty, and love.

Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.