Joe Chappelle’s rote thriller An Acceptable Loss plays like a holdover, or possibly a hangover, from a different political era. Libby (Tika Sumpter) is a controversial new contemporary warfare professor at an Ivy League college, the controversy stemming from the fact that as the top political aide to hawkish Vice President Rachel Burke (Jamie Lee Curtis), Libby had signed off on a tactical strike that killed tens of thousands of civilians four years earlier. (Sloppy post-production tinkering establishes the attack occurred in 2019, making the film’s present-day a 2023 in which the characters use 2017 technology.)
Meanwhile, Libby is being stalked by Martin (Ben Tavassoli), a student of Arabic descent who lost family members in said attack, and who is unaware that Libby is writing a book which will reveal it was based on what now-President Burke knew was falsified evidence. Although progressive in the sense that Libby and Rachel’s characters would surely have been male had the film been made as recently as the 1990s, An Acceptable Loss nonetheless takes place in an archaic universe in which the revelation of government wrongdoing is somehow important, and much of the drama comes from whether or not this supposed bombshell will be made public. Remember when we thought that made a difference? Good times, good times.
Rated R. Opens Friday at the 4-Star Theater.