John Cusack's War, Inc: Defying Expectations And The Corporate Media

07/21/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Alternet

It's not uncommon for a big-budget Hollywood flick to get mixed reviews and then go on to do gang-busters at the box office. Movie-goers' desires when looking for a little escapism on a Saturday afternoon don't always mesh with the critics' tastes. But it's almost unheard of for scrappy, independent films to do well without critical raves. Low-budget films live or die according to their reviews, and a so-so write up is usually a quick ticket to the video shelf.

That's the rule; War, Inc., John Cusack's dark parable about the rape and pillage of the Iraqi economy -- what Antonia Juhasz calls Bush's "economic invasion" of Iraq - is the exception. While the film wasn't exactly panned by critics -- overall, its writing and acting were well-received -- quite a few mainstream reviewers were dismissive of its premise. For many in the commercial media, Iraq, and the rampant war-profiteering that's marked the adventure from the beginning, is old news, and they greeted it with a collective 'ho-hum.'

Time called the film, "a great excuse to call up your old liberal pals and relive that dreamy time when war as business was an idea worth satirizing." The New York Times' David Carr wrote, "Those who suggest that the movie's core premise - war as a profit engine - is so five years ago are right in a way" (not that Carr would suggest anything of the sort himself). Reuters' Frank Scheck predicted that "the First Look release is unlikely to counter the commercial malaise for war-themed films."

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