Friday, December 17, 2010

Random DVD Round-Up 8 - WAR INC.

WAR INC. is a lo-fi but high concept political satire set in a fictional post-Soviet Islamic republic. Focussing on the key differentiator of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the country isn't occupied by the US Army but by a Blackwater style private mercenary organisation run by a Cheney like former US Veep (Dan Aykroyd). He hires John Cusack's assassin to kill a Middle Eastern oil minister in order to provide further money making opportunities. So, Cusack's character goes undercover as organiser for a local pop star (Hilary Duff, sending herself up brilliantly).

Written by Cusack and the guy behind the Warren Beatty political satire BULLWORTH, WAR INC. has its moments of visual and verbal humour and I love the over-arching concept. But the humour just isn't well enough developed or sustained to create a truly funny or insightful movie. Somehow the movie just doesn't cohere. This confirms my belief that good satire is one of the most difficult genres to pull of in any medium let alone film. One has to work hard to make it subtle and sharp and one has to resist the temptation to go for broad-brush sending up of obvious targets. Moreover, satire is ultimately an alienating form of humour, and it is hard to do well while also engaging us emotionally - as in the final scenes of this movie.

So, WAR INC. is a failure, but a noble failure.

WAR, INC played Tribeca 2008 and was released that year in the US, Israel, Russia, Taiwan, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal. It is available on DVD.

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