This political thriller is ambitious and timely, but it's also disappointingly awkward, with stilted performances in the first half, and a second half that gets increasingly routine and ridiculous. Written and directed by Joe Chappelle -- whose earlier film work consists of low-grade genre stuff like Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Phantoms, and The Skulls II -- An Acceptable Loss starts with an intriguing scenario. Libby was directly involved in a decision to take out 150,000 bystanders in order to target six important terrorists, and now she must live with the fallout. The movie is honest in dealing with the situation both in the way that Libby is hit with questions and accusations (and sometimes even support) wherever she goes and in the way she has retreated into a world of spareness and suspicion.
But as soon as the movie starts, the most basic scenes play stiffly, with actors who appear to be at different levels or in different spaces. Aside from her hidden depths, Libby is weirdly static, rarely making an organic move from within; everything acts upon her. And, despite her brains and paranoia, it's frustrating how easy it is for Martin to breach her security system. From there, the movie turns into an absolutely silly, brainless chase in which nothing anyone does makes much sense. An Acceptable Loss could have been an incendiary, ferocious movie, instead of the limp one it is; at least Curtis is totally committed to her malevolent, razor-edged political powerhouse character.