In the Loop is that rare satire that successfully walks the line between wacky discombobulation and frightening reality, making it a searing indictment of personal compromise and self-indulgence in modern politics. It projects a disjointed governmental landscape littered with aggression, misinformation, and manipulation, a cinematic Bush-era doctrine populated with sharks of all sorts and sizes. Led by spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), an abrasive cannonball of snark and intelligence, these supposed men and women of duty mark their territory through fear, letting the weak fall by the wayside with little to no mention of the everyday people they’re supposedly serving.
Director Armando Iannucci sees this world as a continuous line of betrayals, whether it be sexual, moral, or social, and the process reverberates through each character as they wilt under pressure and concede to the rules of the game. But let’s not forget that In the Loop is a hilarious comedy as well, forcing the viewer to address how and why we’ve come to view such serious material in such a mocking fashion. Like Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, In the Loop wants the process of building an unjust war to dwarf the horrific final product. The ending shot of a British Government Office diligently conducting business as usual, with some characters leaving for good replaced by their carbon copies, is the most devastating moment in the film. Everyone completely glosses over the cost of their decisions, and the culpability to come can only be measured in military body bags.