Rated: R for violence, language and brief sexual material Reviewed by: Jim Release date: June 6, 2008 Released by: First Look Studios
John Cusack apparently saw comedic vibes with ominous machinations into the first outsourced war, yet the actor, producer, and co-writer can't plausibly wag this prodding parody. This contemporary Dr. Strangelove is so outdated that it feels like it came out of a time warp.
The actor, who was rather good as a similarly conflicted hitman in the funny Grosse Point Blank, here is sorrowed Hauser, an assassin who swills hot sauce without much twitching or tears in his eyes.
A Dick Cheney-ish former veep (Dan Aykroyd) retains Hauser to off Omar Sharif (Lyubomir Neikov), the oil minister of faux Turaqistan. It seems that a Haliburton-like conglomerate (Tamerlane) has had its hands full with the rebellious locals.
Filling out the main part of a colorful cast are Ben Kingsley as a puppeteer from the CIA, Hilary Duff as Yonica, a haughty pop star with a thing for scorpions, and Marisa Tomei as leftist journalist Natalie Hegalhuzen. Oh, and Cusack's reliable sister, Joan, is Hauser's rather risible sourpuss of a contact at company headquarters.
The hodgepodge surrounding Hauser's clandestine activities using the Brand USA Trade Show as a front is more obtuse and implausible rather than oddly engaging. Perhaps being so close to this project makes Cusack a less than ideal eraser though he gives Hauser some exuberance against the gangster and insurgent heavies.
Director Joshua Seftel stretches out his directorial wings from the documentary ilk to no avail here as the result merits less than the efforts against Sharif. It's tightly reigned in by this straight-shooting ultimately insufferably soft satire with line readings that makes it all go down like a tangy, but lethal helping of tabasco sauce.