Updated: Read Devin’s interview with John Cusack here
It’s not such a shock if you haven’t heard much about John Cusack’s new movie, War, Inc.
A Google news search yields an anemic handful of hits. There’s no
“arg” for it, unless you count real life. But for certain corners of
the internets it’s as much of a geekgasm as The Dark Knight or Hellboy 2. Here’s why.
John Cusack has been in some of the most important geek movies of all time. You start enumerating them and can’t stop — Better Off Dead, Stand By Me, The Grifters, Say Anything,
the list goes on. His career trajectory has been marked by smarts,
good taste and a kind of strange empathy with geek culture. He’s like
the cute version of all of us. A perfect surrogate for anyone that
fell outside the norm.
Cusack’s innate innocence and charm
always made him believable as the wistful outcast who wants something
better but won’t give up his essential self to get it, even as he moves
through hope, certainty, disillusionment and despair. Though there’s a
distinct Cusack persona, he can handle himself equally well in romantic comedy, high
drama and horror alike, but seems to have a special place in his heart
for dark satire. It bubbles just below the surface of many of his films, including those he co-wrote, like Grosse Point Blank and High Fidelity. Now, Cusack has funneled all the intangibles that make him such a
unique and charismatic presence into a new film spiced with equal parts post-disillusionment euphoria and gallows humor.
War, Inc. is
about morals-free paper shuffler/assassin Brand Hauser working for the
multinational Tamerlane Corporation that has been handed a country (the
fictional Turaqistan) to destroy and rebuild, “using the State Dept. as
an ATM”). Cusack wrote the movie with Jeremy Pikser (Bulworth)
and his friend Mark Leyner (it’s directed by Joshua Seftel), having come
up with the idea after learning of military contractors
in Iraq .
It’s a controversial snakepit to dive into, but Cusack hails from a passionate Irish family with no shortage of
opinions, and he doesn’t flinch at the idea of pushing political buttons with a movie, even a dark comedy. “You just need to express yourself and
take the hits,” he told the LA Times’s Tina Daunt.
Like Kubrick taking on the Cold War and realizing the only way to depict it accurately would be through wacky comedy, Cusack and his collaborators decided there was
no other way to tell this particular story. He told feature writer
Andy Klein in LA CityBeat, “I
think we just came together with the idea of ‘Let’s do something
stylistically, and maybe spiritually, irreverent and as absurd as the
ideology of these guys making a policy that, in its application, is
obscene and criminal.'”
He describes his character in War, Inc. as the spiritual cousin of the title character in Grosse Point Blank, “the
wayward mercenary, wandering around the wasteland with their code,
looking for a cause. But they’re corrupt, and there’s corruption all
around them.” Think of Brand as Lane Meyer in Better Off Dead and Tamerlane as the paperboy…
“I want my two dollars!”
Also starring in War, Inc. are
Cusack’s sister, Joan, as his secretary; Marisa Tomei as an
idealistic reporter; Dan Aykroyd as a former US Vice President and Tamerlane Corp. figurehead; Hillary Duff as Turaqi pop star Yonica
Babyyeah; and Ben Kingsley as … I’m not quite sure.
I haven’t seen War, Inc. yet, but once Indy 4‘s
out of the way (tonight!), that will be the next movie for which I will
shell out $11.50 not only willingly, but thrilled with the opportunity
to fork over the cash.
The movie opens today in NY and LA (they widen based on attendance in limited markets, so if you like Cusack and want him to make more movies, go see it this weekend). You can watch the trailer and clips at the film’s Official site!