War, Inc. is a political satire about the nature of war, America’s conduct in other countries before and after a military conflict has occurred, product placement, the CIA, logos and killers. The world that exists in War, Inc. is a marketing teacher’s dream. The four P’s of marketing: Product, Price, Placement and Production are proliferated throughout the entirety of War, Inc. In War, Inc.’s fictional world, countries and the people who fight in these wars and conflicts have been privatized and taken over by corporations. As a consequence, there are logos for companies plastered everywhere and everywhere is a commercial product available for purchase. Soldiers chew on Freeze Dried Coffee chicklets while wearing company insignia. Anyone who has taken a marketing class will recognize that there is a huge amount of branding for fictional companies and organizations in this film. The tanks have ads on them, the Humvees, the buildings everything.
War, Inc. takes place in the fictional country of Turagistan where Brand Hauser (John Cusack) is sent by the former Vice President of the United States (Dan Akroyd). While in office and during the film, the former Vice President runs a company called Tamerlane (a clever reference to 14th century Turco-Mongol conqueror of much of western and Central Asia), who profited by the Vice President’s Office, was charged with abusing his office and was later cleared of all charges. Under the guise of a trade show host for the Brand USA Expo Tamerlane is sponsoring. Hauser is a hired assassin who carries around and drinks shots of hot sauce, which somehow enables him to deal with unsavory memories from his past. Hauser is to zero-out the CEO of Tamerlane chief competitor in Turagistan, Omar Shief (Lynbomir Neikov), and eliminate him.
The expo will also host the wedding of Central Asia popstar Yonica Babyyeah (Hilary Duff). Sure to be one of the most talked about scenes in the film is when Babyyeah (her name is priceless) is recording her music video for “Blow You Up”. The song is more hysterical than it is good and more than likely, easier to listen to because of what is going on during the scene. Babyyeah is audaciously overt when trying to gain Hauser’s sexual attention. Babyyeah is the amalgamated, comic book version of a few notable popstars rolled into a corporate package job-perfect for this type of film. Of course there is a real girl underneath the wrapping but you would never know it from the pimped out, branded, oversexed sparkle reporter Natalie Hegalhuzen (Marisa Tomei) correctly ascribes Babyyeah to possess.
For all of the forethought that went into War, Inc., the film flip-flops from being a serious satire and being a silly action-comedy (trance-femoral amputees dancing in a musical with replacement legs made out of the same material of the land mines that blow off their organic legs. It’s an example of vertical integration that will drop some jaws while leaving others speechless). Hegalhuzen reaction to the cabaret and its poor participants is the only thing realistic in the scene. That and the fact that alloys used in land mines probably are used in some artificial limbs. War, Inc. begins a slow decent as it sinks underneath the weight of its own satiric elements. From the middle of the second act and the entirety of the third, it is like you are watching a goofy, live-action cartoon where plot and logic have voluntarily jumped out of the window.
A plot point occurs towards the beginning of the War, Inc. that I guessed to be true but then dismissed as highly improbable. During the third act of War, Inc., that surmised plot point turns out to be absolutely true. Its one of those circular, oven-baked, all-points-are-connected, Hollywood plot points you have seen before. That is what most-likely led to my educated deduction in the first place. Once it was revealed, some viewers are sure to think: Oh please! But yes, it’s true.
All in all, Joshua Seftel’s War, Inc. was missed opportunity at satirizing the business of war, the profitable process of rebuilding afterwards and corporations, not just in America but around the world.