Following British and American bureaucrats in the days leading up to the Iraq war, In the Loop is both hilariously funny and boundlessly cynical. Written and directed by Armando Iannucci, the film takes many of its characters from the British satirist's 2005 television series The Thick of It. Instead of being set in the corridors of Whitehall, however, the bumbling lawmakers are now placed on the world stage. But despite the new setting, the characters are every bit as incompetent, self-serving and gruesome as those of the TV show, and many are much worse. The story begins when the junior minister Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) accidentally states that a proposed war in the Middle East is "unforeseeable" during an interview. American officials jump upon the phrase, and what follows is a Washington tug-of-war between the battle-weary Major General Miller (James Gandolfini) and the ultra-hawk Linton Barwick (David Rasche) to prove that Foster is on their side. However, the combined ignorance of the minister and his hapless assistant, Toby (Chris Addison), becomes clearer as they are dragged further and further out of their depth. The cast give brilliant comic performances, without ever losing sight of the story's sense of realism. Although hilarious, In the Loop is also quite terrifying, particularly in one scene where a dodgy dossier is hurriedly assembled in front of our eyes. Most importantly, Iannucci's satire reminds us of the consequences of distorted language and political manipulation.