Lawrence, KS - Events Local News Groups Contact
Is War, Inc. over-the-top, or not over-the-top enough?
By Indy Media /
By Jeremy Scahill. From

Back in 1989, in his smash hit “Say Anything,” John Cusack famously stood with a boom box above his head outside the home of the woman he loved blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” With his latest films on the Iraq war, Cusack is standing outside Hollywood with a TV above his head broadcasting his political movies calling on the public to wake up and “Do Something.”

John Cusack began working on his new film “War, Inc.,” which premieres in LA and New York May 23, about a year into the U.S. occupation of Iraq. From the moment U.S. tanks rolled into Baghdad, Cusack was a voracious consumer of news about the war. He took it deadly seriously, regularly calling independent journalists and asking them questions as he sought as much independent information as he could. Watching the insanity of the erection of the Green Zone and the advent of the era of McWar, complete with tens of thousands of “private contractors,” Cusack set out to use the medium of film to unveil the madness. He wanted to do on the big screen what independent reporters like Naomi Klein, Nir Rosen and Dahr Jamail did in print. Over these years of war and occupation, Cusack has become one of the most insightful commentators on a far too seldom discussed aspect of the occupation: the corporate dominance of the U.S. war machine.

War Inc. trailer

Cusack is no parachute humanitarian. While he continues to do the Hollywood thing with big budget movies, he is simultaneously a fierce un-embedded actor/filmmaker who has been at the center of two of the best films to date dealing with the madness of the Iraq war. Without big money sponsors and the backing of powerful production companies, Cusack has spent a lot of his own money on these projects.

Cusack’s film “Grace is Gone,” was one of the most under-rated and under-viewed movies of 2007. Cusack should have been seriously considered for an Oscar for his portrayal of Stanley Philipps, a man whose wife dies while deployed as a soldier in Iraq. The film centers on Philipps’s painful inability to explain to his two young daughters (powerfully played by two amateur actors, Shélan O’Keefe and Gracie Bednarczyk) their mother’s death. Instead of telling his daughters the terrible news, he embarks on a surreal road trip to a theme park with the girls as he fights for his own sanity and grapples with his own support for the war that has just taken the life of his wife. The film is a jolting picture of a man caught in the free fall of a nervous breakdown and the ricochet impact of the death of soldiers in the war. It was an outright shame that “Grace is Gone” did not get wide distribution. I was at a screening of the film in New York and there were not many dry eyes at the movie’s conclusion.

Perhaps the film’s lack of commercial success was due to the so-called “Iraq movie fatigue” that took hold in Hollywood a couple of years ago. But “Grace is Gone” is not simply an “Iraq movie” or a “war movie.” It isn’t even really an “anti-war” movie. It is a haunting and moving film that cuts across political lines to tell the story of the suffering and shattering of so many U.S. military families with loved ones deployed in Iraq. Had it received the distribution it deserved, “Grace is Gone” would have resonated strongly with both supporters and opponents of the war, a rare accomplishment.

“War, Inc.” is a radically different kind of movie. In fact, it really defies genre. It is sort of like this generation’s Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange and The Wizard of Oz mixed together with the un-embedded reporting of Naomi Klein, spiced up with a dash of South Park. It is a powerful, visionary response to the cheerleading culture of the corporate media and a pliant Hollywood afraid of its own shadow.

On the surface, “War, Inc.” appears to be a spoof of the corporatization of the occupation of Iraq. Cusack plays a hit man, Brand Hauser, deployed to Turaqistan with the mission of killing a Middle Eastern oil baron (named Omar Sharif). Hauser’s employer is a secretive for-profit military corporation run by the former U.S. vice president, played by Dan Aykroyd. We first meet Aykroyd’s character as he sits, pants down, on a toilet seat during a closed-circuit satellite video-conference call to give Hauser his mission. Hauser arrives in the Turaqi capital and heads for the “Emerald City” (read: the Green Zone), where his cover is director of a trade show for the military corporation, Tamerlane, which is basically running the Turaqi occupation. Hauser soon falls for a progressive journalist, played by Marisa Tomei, who is in Turaqistan to investigate Tamerlane, and what follows is an insane ride through Cusack’s interpretation of the radical corporatization of war.

Singer Hilary Duff gives a surprisingly fun performance as a pop star, Yonica Babyyeah, who performs a song in the war zone with the lyrics, “You say you want to invade me, baby/Enslave me, baby.” As Duff delivers the song, she caresses a phallic gas nozzle decorated with diamonds while singing, “I want to blow you….up.” Obviously Cusack and his co-writers, Mark Leyner and Jeremy Pikser (_Reds_,Bulworth), sought to tap into the extreme nature of the corporatized war and take it to another level, but anyone who thinks the premise behind “War Inc.” is “over-the-top” has not been paying attention to real life.

Cusack, Leyner and Pikser are not predicting the future, they are forcefully–and with dark humor and wit– branding the present for what it is: the Wal-Mart-ization of life (and death) represented in the new U.S. model for waging war. With 630 corporations like Blackwater and Halliburton on the U.S. government payroll in Iraq getting 40% of the more than $2 billion Washington spends every week on the occupation, Cusack’s “futuristic” film is not far from the way things really are. A powerful, for-profit war corporation, run by the former U.S. vice president “owning” the war zone; tanks with NASCAR-like sponsor logos speeding around the streets firing at will; “implanted journalists” watching the war in IMAX theaters in the heavily-fortified “Emerald City” to get “full spectrum sensory reality” while eating popcorn; a secretive “viceroy” running the show from behind a digital curtain are all part of Cusack’s battlefield in the fictitious Turaqistan. But how far are they from the realities of the radically privatized corporate war machine Washington has unleashed on the world?

“War, Inc.” is already an underground cult classic and will likely remain so for years to come. The film is not without its shortcomings–at times it is confusing and drags–but its faults are significantly overshadowed by its many strengths. It also accomplishes the difficult feat of being very entertaining and funny, while delivering a powerful punch of truth. “War, Inc.” is a movie that deserves a much wider viewing than the barons of the film industry are likely to give it. But by filling the theaters in the opening days, people can send a powerful message that there is–and must be–a market for films of conscience.

Visit the official web site of “War, Inc.” or John Cusack’s web site to view trailers, get info on tickets for the premieres and to read more about the film.

Jeremy Scahill’s New York Times best seller, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army&, is now available in substantially updated paperback form.
0.0 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 10,855 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Donald Trump Is the Mirror and Hillary Clinton Is the Mask
Chris Agnos · 7,205 views today · Disclaimer: I do not support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president. I think the scope of the political debate is far too narrow for the kinds of actions that need to...
Gil Scott-Heron Deconstructs Colonialism and Black History in His Own Unique Style
3 min · 3,509 views today · His-Story: I was wondering about our yesterdays, and starting searching through the rubble and to say the very least, somebody went to a hell of a lot of trouble to make sure...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 3,453 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,495 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Mark Corske's Engines of Domination (2014)
60 min · 2,264 views today · Political power -- armed central authority, with states and war -- is it part of human nature? Is it necessary for human communities? Or is it a tool that ruling elites use to...
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 1,574 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
Donald and Hobbes Is Genius
Various · 1,449 views today · Some clever folk have been replacing precocious 6-year-old Calvin, from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, with Donald Trump and the results are, well, take a look...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,326 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
10 Quotes From an Oglala Lakota Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society
Wisdom Pills · 1,064 views today · Luther Standing Bear was an Oglala Lakota Sioux Chief who, among a few rare others such as Charles Eastman, Black Elk and Gertrude Bonnin occupied the rift between the way of...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 1,062 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Anarchists - What We Stand For
unknown · 850 views today · Anarchism : The word “anarchy” comes from Greek and means “no rulers”. As a political philosophy, anarchism is based on the idea that organization does not require rulers—that...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 798 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
For Those Who Don't Want to Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils
Peter White · 795 views today · Ranked-choice voting is catching on, and Maine might become the first state to help citizens vote for candidates they actually want.
Planet Earth II Could Be Best Nature Doc Ever Made
3 min · 630 views today · 10 years ago Planet Earth changed our view of the world. Now we take you closer than ever before. This is life in all its wonder. This is Planet Earth II. A decade ago, the...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 405 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 367 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Lessons in the Calais Jungle: Teaching Life Stories and Learning About Humanity
Aura Lounasmaa · 342 views today · I am part of a team of academics teaching a course to residents in the Calais Jungle, a camp for migrants and refugees outside the French city. Life Stories in the Jungle has...
Eckhart Tolle: Your Facebook Ego, That's Not Who You Are
2 min · 290 views today · “Identification with thoughts and the emotions that go with those thoughts creates a false mind-made sense of self, conditioned by the past: the "little me" and its story. This...
Are You Lost in the World Like Me?
3 min · 271 views today · Animated film by Steve Cutts for 'Are You Lost In The World Like Me?', taken from These Systems Are Failing- the debut album from Moby & The Void Pacific Choir. 
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Is War, Inc. over-the-top, or not over-the-top enough?