Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Review: 'In the Loop' (A-)

By Chase Kahn

Essentially a film version, or extension, of director Armando Iannucci's BBC television series "The Thick of It", In the Loop is a scathing, rapid-fire, brilliantly on-point and hilarious satire about political ineptitude, greed and one-upsmanship.

Spearheaded by a five-man screenwriting crew, this decidedly British comedy has enough laughs during its credits reel to stretch out over the running-time, but fortunately for us, In the Loop is the most riotously potent political farce in half a century.

Taking place in the middle of a nationwide conflict in the Middle-East, the films pits a ensemble cast of witless goons (American and British alike) who each have their own agendas and back-alley plans of action in order to better either themselves or their countries -- well, mostly themselves.

It's mainly about the evil villainy and legitimate disdain that government agencies and co-workers have against each other to the point where the matter at hand is hardly relevant. Important and powerful figures are portrayed as either too brutish, too unqualified, too barbaric or too young. It's also about how the media has become an integral, overwhelmingly conscientious part of politics -- even affecting the most fundamental decisions as someones stance on war.

The cast, from Peter Capaldi to Tom Hollander to James Gandolfini is astounding. Hollander (Pirates of the Caribbean)absolutely owns the film as the unintentionally stupid and self-consciously compromised Minister Simon Foster, who can't seem to make up his own mind about whether to vote for or against the war. A knowing face, Steve Coogan, even shows up for an extremely funny cameo.

Although, none of the actors would be worth their weight if it wasn't for the brilliantly explosive and ingenious dialogue and direction by director Armando Iannucci and his plethora of screenwriters. It's given its extra weight by the sensational editing of the Anthony Boys and Billy Sneddon duo, who punctuate each line of perfectly delivered dialogue with a transitional cut more reminiscent of a rim-shot. As a result, In the Loop is an absolute breeze and one of the smarter and funnier comedies, not of the year, but of the decade.

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