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Film / War, Inc.

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War, Inc. is a 2008 satire/Black Comedy about an ex-CIA assassin named Hauser (John Cusack) who works for the Halliburton-esque company Tamerlane. As the movie opens he's being sent on assignment to the recently "liberated" country of Turaqistan to kill an oil executive from a neighboring nation named Lyubomir Neikov, because Neikov is a barrier to Tamerlane's interests. Hauser's cover is a producer of a trade show demonstrating the effectiveness of Tamerlane's campaign, which basically puts him in charge of everything PR-related, from reeling in leftist journalist Natalie Hagelhausen (Marisa Tomei), who Hauser has a crush on, to managing the wedding of Yonica Babyyeah (Hilary Duff), a slutty Central Asian popstar. And Hauser's much-buried conscience is starting to flare up again...

This film provides examples of:

  • Big Bad: An interesting case where Walken is the Big Bad of this story, but is himself only The Dragon to the former Vice President.
  • Black Comedy: So much so it makes Doctor Strangelove feel like a feel-good romp.
  • Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: Hauser carries around a briefcase full of fiery hot sauces. He knocks back a shot glass of sauce to get fired up just before executing a hit.
  • Byronic Hero: Hauser is a walking collection of depression and traumas who still would like to do something good in the world... as long as it's within the scope of what he can do, which is kill people.
  • The Chessmaster: Walken. He allowed Hauser to "kill" him and then made him do his bidding as "the Viceroy" for years afterwards, also killing his wife and having his baby daughter grow up as Yonica while Hauser believed they were all dead.
  • Choosy Beggar: A bunch of kids set Hauser's car on fire because how dare that asshole give them money instead of candy?
  • Combat Pragmatist: Hauser. He uses a bottle opener to stab someone in the side of the head and uses Walken in his wheelchair as a shield while charging down a hallway.
  • Countrystan: The film is set in the fictional Turaqistan.
  • Crapsack World: Turaqistan, which seems to be a blend of about 40% Iraq and 60% Afghanistan and suffers from the same problems as these countries.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Hauser and Marsha - which makes sense, as they're played by John and Joan Cusack.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In one scene, Hauser asks a few kids for directions and they ask for candy in return. Hauser doesn't have candy, but he gives them all plenty of money. After he returns to his Hummer once he arrives to his destination and deals with people trying to kill him, he discovers the Hummer is on fire and the kids are running away from the scene... except for one that stops long enough to yell at Hauser "next time, bring some candy, asshole!" before following them.
  • Downer Ending: Our heroes escape from Turaqistan on Yonica's plane, and start to talk about what they're going to do next only for the camera to pull back, revealing a cruise missile following them. The scene then cuts to a announcement by the former Vice President declaring the events of the previous night an Ugigi terrorist attack, and declaring war on Ugigistan.
  • Eagleland: Type 2 played for pitch-black comedy. The best example is Walken rolling towards his safety bunker while surrounded by goons and making a grand speech about how America has the most sophisticated, precise weapons in the world... and right after he finishes, the missile he ordered launched to get rid of Hauser malfunctions, goes in a different direction, and rams through the still-closing door of Walken's bunker before going kaboom.
  • Expy: Dan Aykroyd's character is basically Dick Cheney. Which is odd, as another character makes a reference to Dick Cheney later on...
  • Faux Affably Evil: Walken. He's as affable as a character played by Ben Kingsley, but then he reveals in the same tone of voice that he had Hauser's wife and child assassinated because Hauser is his best killer and there's no way he's gonna let him retire.
  • For the Evulz: Walken's revenge plan is simply to make Hauser suffer.
  • Fun with Subtitles: Everything Omar Sharif says is subtitled, even though he's speaking perfectly comprehensible English
  • Guns Akimbo: Hauser briefly akimboes a pair of pistols in the final shootout.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Hauser blinds Walker by pouring hot sauce into his eyes.
  • Hidden Depths: We find out Yonica isn't the manufactured popstar she seems to be and longs to do music her way rather than the label's way.
  • Home Porn Movie: Yonica's fiance was planning to make one of their honeymoon and then sell the resulting DVDs. Yonica was unaware of this and got really upset when she found out.
  • Knight Templar: Walken. He wants American interests to grow unrestricted, and if that means a lot of dead people, then so be it.
  • Large Ham: Walken. Ben Kingsley tears an entire country apart and comes back for seconds.
  • Left the Background Music On: When Hauser is questioned about his family, he get depressed and the lively music stops. He then gets up and puts the needle back on the record player.
  • Meta Casting: Hilary Duff as a slutty pop star (also a Take That! at other pop stars whose personas are sluttier than Hilary's).
  • No Name Given: Dan Aykroyd's character is only ever referred to as "The former Vice President".
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Admirably averted by Hilary Duff, who maintains her accent even when singing (unlike a surprising number of real non-American pop stars who affect Transatlantic accents when singing).
  • Qurac: Turaqistan, which seems to be a blend of about 40% Iraq and 60% Afghanistan
  • The Reveal: Two, which come one right after the other. First, that the Viceroy is Walken. Second, that Hauser is Yonica's father.
  • Self-Harm: Hauser regularly drinks shotglasses full of hot sauce to deal with his guilt about his job.
  • Shadow Dictator: The Viceroy. For most of the film he only appears in video-conference calls to Hauser through a digital masking software that has a bunch of ever-shifting faces and distorted voice. It's obvious that Walken would go through all of that trouble to mask his identity, considering that Hauser "killed him" long before the movie started.
  • Shout-Out: They did name a character Omar Sharif, after all.
  • Spiritual Sequel: To Grosse Pointe Blank - John and Joan Cusack basically fill their exact same roles, Dan Aykroyd plays a supporting character in each movie, and both movies involve an assassin growing tired of his job considering quitting after falling in love
  • The Stoic: Hauser goes through most of the film in a highly depressed funk.
  • Take That!: At the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, George Bush, Dick Cheney, embedded journalists, and slutty pop stars
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Ben Kingsley is featured in both posters for the movie and the trailer, which is odd given his relative lack of screen time until he is revealed to be the Big Bad.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Marsha becomes extremely unhinged as the movie progresses, culminating in her screaming her head off at Walken's confession.
  • The Voice: Two of them - Jerry, the "Guide Star" operator who functions as Hauser's de facto therapist, and the Viceroy, who only communicates via a screen of always shifting famous Americans and a heavily altered computer voice who turns out to be Walken.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Hauser is shown milking a cobra for its venom. When Yonica enters the room, he throws the cobra into the corner to prevent her from seeing it. A second later, the cobra is gone and not mentioned again.