Another component in this absurdity is Foster’s newly appointed aide, Toby (Chris Addison), whose first workday is the morning after Foster has made his remark. He gets Foster involved with the Americans by scheduling (through his high-rep girlfriend) an appearance by Foster at a meeting involving war (where Foster is supposed to be “room meat” and pretty much stay in the background). At this little meeting we find out about Liza Weld’s (Anna Chlumsky) papers, which mention a war committee. These documents are known throughout as “Quip Hip” or something like this. The war committee comes to be known as “The Future Planning Committee.” This group is headed up by Linton Barwick (David Rasche), a head honcho on the American side. Among those attending are General George Miller (James Gandolfini, the biggest name in the cast), and his ex-lover and the woman who holds the first meeting, Karen Clarke (Mimi Kennedy). This war committee is supposed to be secretive, but is divulged by someone I will not name. It causes an uproar, etc.
The film is sort of divided into three acts: the first in England, the second in Washington D.C. when Foster, Toby, and eventually Malcolm (“Are you coming to insult me in another time zone?” Foster asks forlornly) come to the war committee meeting and the effects of that, and the third as mostly everyone converges at the UN and votes on whether or not to declare war. This may sound underwhelming. In most films it would be. But here, the humorous script (by Iannucci and three others) and the performances carry the film onto a bit of higher ground. I mean, this is not a film many will talk about in twenty years, but it is fine entertainment for now.
“In the Loop” is very well cast, and well acted by its players. Hollander and Addison are funny and whimsical British presences, which is what the roles needed. Gina McKee as a fellow aide to Foster is good as well. Capaldi, given the film’s punchlines often, is overbearing, but I suppose that’s the point. Rasche, as the glib Barwick, perhaps turns in the film’s best performance. Gandolfini is formidable, and Chlumsky I found below average and the film’s weakest performance as a cliché American. She does very little with the least shaded-in character.“In the Loop” is a very amusing and moderately satirical, but mostly just a comedy of errors and high-level idiocy. There are many quotable lines and little bits of wit. It’s pretty good for the genre it’s in. Although it’s not an extremely impacting or really standout film, it’s delightful in a way and vulgar (this is hard to take at times). The crew rarely lets you get deep in the loop, but that’s okay. It’s enough to watch from the outside in. B-