A political satire about a group of skeptical American and British operatives attempting to prevent a war between two countries.A political satire about a group of skeptical American and British operatives attempting to prevent a war between two countries.A political satire about a group of skeptical American and British operatives attempting to prevent a war between two countries.
The source for "In the Loop" is a popular British TV series entitled "The Thick of It," with many of the actors from that program appearing in the movie (though we're told that most of the performers play different roles in the film from the ones they play on the show). As if that weren't confusing enough, the script by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche spends virtually no time on introductions or back story of any kind, leaving those of us who are unfamiliar with the context feeling just a wee bit lost and disoriented at the beginning. Indeed, we are plunged so immediately into the swirl of activity surrounding the minister's diplomatic faux pas that we learn early on that we had better start paying some serious attention to what's happening on screen or risk going under in pretty short order. I say this not as a criticism of the writing because, frankly, this is one of the few comic scripts I've come across in quite some time that actually treats its audience like thinking adults, that doesn't find it necessary to talk down to us in order to appeal to the lowest-common-denominator viewer. The one-liners come fast and furious in this film and woe to anyone not willing to make the effort to keep up with them. The good news is that the writing is so sharp and acerbic that we really don't mind putting that extra added effort into our viewing. One simply cannot be a passive onlooker while watching "In the Loop" and still reap the rewards of the experience.
With the kind of understated irony that distinguishes the best of British humor, the densely-plotted, character-rich screenplay aims its comedic sights at all the would-be power players, petty backbiters, toadying assistants, long-suffering aides, incompetent bureaucrats, draconian bosses, mealy-mouthed office-holders and enraged constituents that make up the world of high-level diplomacy and politics. The movie also has some fun with England's perceived role as ugly stepsister (or lapdog, if you prefer) to the bully-boy United States in matters of world affairs.
Director Iannucci gets nothing less than a sterling performance from each and every member of his large and gifted cast, be they American (with James Gandolfini the most recognizable face in that crowd) or British. However, extra special note should be taken of Tom Hollander, Chris Addison, Mimi Kennedy and, above all, Peter Capaldi, who tears up the screen as the deliciously ill-tempered and foul-mouthed enforcer for the British Prime Minister.
The truths this allegorical fable reveals about how easy it is to cherry pick evidence to lead a country into war and how hard it is for individuals of goodwill to stand up for what they know is right are so dead-on in their accuracy and so universal in their scope that they leave the mind reeling from the impact - and the ribcage aching from all the laughter.
- Jan 25, 2010