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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No particularly admirable characters. The lethal hired-killer hero says he went into assassination (originally for the CIA) because he thought the enemies would be bad guys, but they turned out to be innocent dissidents. He ultimately rebels, both against the U.S. government and against his corporate masters, but it's still violent. A spoiled young singer is a self-described "whore," even though viewers are asked to believe in her vulnerability and innocence underneath the sleaze. Though an Arab/Muslim land is being occupied in the war, viewers hear almost nothing about their true culture -- just superficial costumes, music, and accents. Evil-businessman caricatures and crazed-goon soldiers also prevail.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of shooting, both in close-up execution-style assassinations and crowds being riddled with bullets on the battlefield. Sometimes bullets are even sprayed at civilians for "laughs." Many bomb/grenade/missile explosions. Hand-to-hand combat, martial-arts style fighting, and one character killed with a spike through the head (after his finger is bitten off). A quadriplegic is tortured with hot sauce in the eyes. A threatened decapitation.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No nudity, but much talk, mostly about the character of a young pop princess with Britney Spears attributes. She calls herself a "whore," dresses in revealing outfits, puts a live scorpion in her panties (writhing lasciviously as a boyfriend obligingly tries to remove it), and tries to seduce the much-older main character. There's talk of her making a possible sex video.
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Many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and the like.
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Products & Purchases
As part of their attempts to satirize the market economy, the filmmakers wallpaper scenes with billboards, URLs, and corporate logos and pay lip service to well-known fast-food chains and products. Of course, these in-your-face ads are meant to be distasteful rather than effective.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Plenty of smoking, social drinking, and drunkenness. Hints that the Tamerlane soldiers are kept wired and violent through drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although this film is technically a comedy, it's a dark one, and there's plenty of violence -- including gory fights and assassinations and people (including unarmed civilians) dying in bloody gunfire. Swear words also fly like shrapnel. Former tween star Hilary Duff plays a singer who sells her sexed-up image to the masses, dressing, singing and behaving (in her own words) like a "whore." The film satirizes giant companies that, with Washington D.C. firmly in their pockets, launch and manage an Iraq-style war purely for profit, with a mindless media repeating their lies about "freedom" and making the world a safer place. Soldiers (who are for-hire militia members, rather than U.S. Army troops) are portrayed as violent and drugged-up. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
With a script (and musical numbers!) co-written by Cusack, War, Inc. is a stingingly angry, high-speed satire that expends enough ammo for two and a half movies. Much of it is shock-and-awe bombardment modeled on the motivations (as the filmmakers envision them, anyway) of the United States' 2003 invasion of Iraq -- depicted here as the actions of money-grubbing plutocrats using a mindless, docile media to spout empty slogans about "freedom" and "war on terror" while murdering, plundering, and turning a distant Arab nation into a tacky American-style outpost of burger joints and strip malls. Then there's the romance with Natalie and, on top of that, a slam against vulgar celebrity culture via the lustful, R-rated performance by erstwhile family favorite Duff. The idea is that the grotesque war and tabloid-trashy teen idols like Britney, Lindsay, and K-Fed are all exploited products of the same depraved commercialized system.
It's a wonder the screed holds together as well as it does -- though by the finale the stress shows. Even adult viewers may have trouble following along, and young viewers lured by the Duff factor are likely to be flat-out bewildered, though the MAD Magazine flavor of the satire might have some appeal. If you enjoyed Cusack's previous role as a pro assassin with hang ups in the culty dark comedy Grosse Pointe Blank and you protested President Bush, then here's catharsis for you.
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Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate