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In the Loop


Stars: Peter Capaldi, James Gandolfini, Gina McKee, Tom Hollander, David Rasche, Anna Chlumsky, Steve Coogan, Mimi Kennedy, Chris Addison

Director: Armando Iannucci

This fast and furious political satire has a number of very funny lines, but at least 20 minutes surplus footage that hangs around its neck like a lead weight towards the end, when its vein of comedy has been all but mined out.

Down in London, junior ministers are a mixture of bumbling bunglers and vitriolic vultures, all caught up in an international crisis where war is expected at any moment. Idiotic International Development minister Simon Foster (Hollander), abetted by his owlish new assistant Toby (Addison), compounds an earlier gaffe in which he described war as 'unforeseeable' by another stumble in which he contends that Britain 'must be ready to climb the mountain of conflict', a slogan that American hawks, led by Barwick (Rasche) adopt as their marching orders.

Trying to keep the lid on everything in his unique, expletive-laden way is the PM's spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (Capaldi, with easily the best role in the film). 'Climb a mountain of conflict?' he snarls at Simon. 'You sound like a Nazi Julie Andrews.' Simon denies responsibility. 'Hah,' screams Malcolm. 'You mean if I asked you to black up, or give me your phone number, or shit yourself, you'd have done that too?'

Across the Atlantic, diplomatic secretary Karen Clarke (Kennedy) and army general Miller (Gandolfini) are striving to avert the war. The general calculates the initial Allied campaign losses against the total number of troops they'll have to deploy. 'At the end of war,' he growls, 'you have to have some soldiers left, otherwise it looks as though you've lost.'

Than Toby blows it all by not only sleeping with Karen's aide (Chlumsky) but also leaking new details to the media. How Paul (a heavily disguised Coogan) and a collapsing wall fit into the mix you'll have to see this fitfully hilarious romp to find out.

David Quinlan

UK/USA 2009. UK Distributor: Optimum. Eastman Colour .
106 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 10 Apr 2009