Armando Iannucci co-writes and directs this feature comedy - a big-screen spin-off of the BBC series 'In the Thick of It' - satirising the inner workings of British and American politics as the powers-that-be attempt to 'sell' the deeply unpopular Iraq invasion to the public on both sides of the Atlantic. When British Minister of International Development (Tom Hollander) puts his foot in his mouth by announcing on national television that 'war is unforeseeable', the British government is sent into a spiral of chaos and spin propagated by the verbally aggressive Director of Communications, Malcom Tucker (Peter Capaldi). Foster soon finds himself bundled off to Washington on a fact-finding mission - where, in his naivety, he becomes the pawn of the Pentagon's General Miller (James Gandolfini) and Assistant Secretary of Diplomacy (Mimi Kennedy) in their mission to do their not-very-best to stop the war happening.
One of the finest British comedies of the decade, In The Loop
takes the genius of the small screen hit The Thick Of It
, and fleshes it out into a blisteringly funny feature-length movie.
Written and directed by Armando Ianucci, the film basically follows a plan between the American President and the British Prime Minister to begin a war, and spin it to their advantage. Naturally, not everyone is so keen on the plan, and the problems arise when Simon Foster, the Minister for International Development, declares that a war isn’t foreseeable, a statement that soon gets seized upon. Then In The Loop deploys its not-so-secret weapon, as enter stage left comes the tour-de-force that is spin doctor Malcolm Tucker.
The character of Tucker will be familiar to fans of The Thick Of It, and here, he’s the absolute high point of a film packed with great moments. Foul-mouthed, vitriolic and a majestic comedy creation, much has been written in the past about Tucker’s similarities with Alastair Campbell. The parallels are startling, but it’s in Peter Capaldi’s outstanding portrayal of him that Tucker becomes the force of nature he is here.
Bolstered by an intelligent and incisive script, In The Loop is both an outstanding comedy and a first-rate satire, that only loses its momentum slightly in its final act. Yet by that stage, it’s more than justified both your expense and your time, and it’s virtually guaranteed to stay resident on many people’s rewatch pile too. One of the finest films of 2009. --Jon Foster
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