Review: An Acceptable Loss

Written and directed by Joe Chappelle, while working with a ruthless, steely-willed political veteran (Jamie Lee Curtis), top national security adviser Libby (Tika Sumpter) signed off on a controversial military action that was supposed to end the war on terror. An action that was taken under false pretences and resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians; four years later, Libby risks her life to expose their lie. Also starring: Ben Tavassoli, Jeff Hephner, Deanna Dunagan, Alex Weisman and Clarke Peters.

The first question that might come to mind when watching this film is: why is everything so grey? Well, as it turns out, it isn’t a device to differentiate past and present or any sort of device, it’s just a terrible choice made by these filmmakers. The result is an entirely bland visual from start to finish and with this film, bland is the key word. The direction is clearly going for some sort of Damages, Scandal blend and it doesn’t have the style to pull that off in the slightest but what that does immediately show is its inability to escape a made for television atmosphere. Chappelle doesn’t seem to have a grasp on the key factors to a political thriller, his opening is utterly drawn out and brings little to the table that isn’t already obvious. From there it doesn’t get much better, it’s a very basic style of shot throughout and it’s hard to even judge the cinematography past the distracting lack of colour.

Unfortunately, things only get worse with the writing, there’s no pace to it, there’s no tension or suspense, literally everything you need to know about this film is in the synopsis and it has little more to add. Libby has morals and ethics but zero real personality, Martin (Tavassoli) has more personality but a stereotypical backstory and is mostly a pawn in the story. Jamie Lee Curtis is a terrific choice to play a cold, villainous Vice President turned President but she’s criminally underused here. It’s a waste to use an actor that can bring such a satisfying edge to her characters and give her something so formulaic and obvious. It is however an accurate representation of the story at hand, it hits familiar notes and is entirely predictable, very little actually happens in its 102-minute runtime.

That said, Curtis does of course still bring her usual high quality to the performance, hopefully she’ll take on more evil-esque roles in the future. Sumpter does the best with the material she has, she’s the only source of intrigue that the film has with her nervous, frantic energy and she does make Libby relatable despite her lack of individuality. Similarly Tavassoli does a good job with the very typical character that he’s given, it certainly improves once he’s allowed to open up about his backstory and he has a great energy to him. All in all, they’re a good team but they haven’t been given the opportunity to make the most of their talents.

An Acceptable Loss is a poor and shallow attempt to step into the realm of Scandal, it’s transparent what it’s going for right from the very beginning and Chappelle doesn’t have the skills to see it through. Its story is utterly predictable and devoid of anything new or different, it’s also guilty of presenting one of the least satisfying possible endings. It’s a terrible waste of making Jamie Lee Curtis a devious politician, she could have brought so much more to it if they’d given her the chance and it would have been a joy to watch. Put simply, this film is aiming too high and doing very little to achieve it.

Verdict: ✯

Available now on Netflix

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