In the Loop - Peter Capaldi’s fearsome communications supremo Malcolm Tucker browbeats Chris Addison’s hapless researcher Toby

For all those still seething over the cynical manipulation and mendacity behind Bush and Blair’s rush to war in Iraq, Armando Iannucci’s blistering political satire In the Loop offers a measure of catharsis. Based on The Thick of It, Iannucci’s splendid TV series about the inner workings of British government, this big screen version widens its scope to deliver a double-barrelled fusillade of scathing contempt at our rulers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Shot in the fly-on-the-wall verité style of the TV series, the film revolves around the bumbling progress of a hapless British junior minister who finds himself caught up in treacherous goings-on in London and Washington as the US and UK governments lay the ground for a war in the Middle East.

In the Loop - Peter Capaldi’s terrifying Malcolm Tucker tears a strip off Tom Hollander’s hapless minister Simon Foster

Tom Hollander’s vacillating minister for international development, Simon Foster, kicks off a crisis when he tells a radio interviewer that the projected war is “unforeseeable”, a gaffe that is pounced upon by Downing Street’s terrifying spin-doctor-in-chief, Peter Capaldi’s thuggish Malcolm Tucker. To limit the damage, Tucker packs Foster off on a fact-finding mission to Washington, where political hawks and doves – including David Rasche’s Rumsfeld-like Linton Barwick and James Gandolfini’s cautious US general – are manoeuvring for advantage.

In the Loop boasts impressive performances from the likes of Chris Addison, Gina McKee, Anna Chlumsky and Zach Woods, as contrasting British and American policy wonks and flak catchers, but it is dominated by Capaldi’s brilliant Tucker, a foul-mouthed bullying sociopath clearly modeled on Alastair Campbell, whose hand in the infamous dodgy dossier is ruthlessly skewered here. Tucker’s rancid, rancorous, incredibly inventive vituperation could scald the skin from a rhino – and there’s even more in the deleted scenes on the DVD.

Released on 24th August.

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