Prior to the release of In The Loop, Alastair Campbell said the film portrayed politicians and their advisers as crass and venal, which had never been his experience whilst in government. Then on the eve the film's release, Smeargate hit (I know, it sounds messy), with the expenses scandal to follow a few weeks later, proving that politics was indeed crass and venal. Iannucci 1 Campbell 0.
On the eve of `a war' in the Middle East, Minister for International Development Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) accidentally states that war is "unforeseeable". This ambiguous statement is seized upon by both the hawks and doves in Washington, with each seeing Foster as their poster boy. On hand to clean up the...mess, is the Prime Minister's spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi).
In The Loop is effectively a stretched out version of Iannucci's award winning television series The Thick of It., but one of the only characters linking the two is Peter Capaldi's ferocious government spin doctor Malcolm Tucker. Loosely based on Alastair Campbell, who claims Tucker is nothing like him (the gentlemen doth protest too much methinks), Capaldi's is an absolute joy to watch, as he spits fury at the bumbling government officials, both elected and unelected. Roughly every third word which comes from Tucker's mouth is a word you'd never use around your mother, but the writing is so intelligent, that it's impossible not to laugh as he spits fury.
Despite portraying Her Majesty's government as blundering fools, the rest of the British cast put in strong performances. Tom Hollander's government minister is the perfect example of the new generation of career politician which currently fills the government benches, and Chris Addison's Toby continues this in his role as a government adviser...despite being younger and significantly less experienced than the minister who he his advising.
When the storyline pops across the Atlantic to Washington D.C. and New York, the film does loose it's way slightly, as British audiences will naturally relate more to their own corridors of power and officials than they do those in the US. This doesn't mean that the US cast are left wanting for material, with some of the best jokes coming from the American counterparts, such as when James Gandolfini's General Miller adds up troop numbers on a child's computer.
Despite the drop in pace, transferring the action to the US is essential, as it exposes the real `special relationship' which exists between the two countries - America leads whilst Britain follows. Even when he travels to the White House and the United Nations, the force ten hurricane that is Malcolm Tucker finds himself pushed towards the periphery.
What makes In The Loop all the more brilliant is that once you've finished laughing at the superb performances and Iannucci's razor sharp script, you'll realise that the political world portrayed in the film is all too similar to our own, and that if this is how the world is being governed, we're all up the preverbal creek without a paddle.
Political satire of the highest standard - In The Loop definitely gets my vote!!!