Fascinating in it’s crisp precision and relentless pacing as a police procedural, Hidden Agenda is really the first Loach film I’ve seen where the social and political issues discussed are defined by the story and not the other way around. Frances McDormand, Brian Cox, and the great Brad Dourif headline a stellar cast in this story about conspiracy, assassination, and political malpractice set amongst a volatile Ireland circa the 1980’s. Loach lays on the intrigue with shady meetings in dark Republican pubs, threats issued with lone bullet casings, and government baddies built from the Karl Rove mold using calm words of terror to pronounce judgement. While not entirely coherent in parts, Hidden Agenda functions as a frightening introductory analysis of the current American War on Terror, and all the torture, killing, and lying that goes with such a situation. As Brian Cox’s honest top cop learns, complex truths turn into simple falsities when pushed to the brink of moral failure, and the results live on to ruin again, and again, and again.