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Movie Review: Closed Circuit

August 28, 2013
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There’s nothing horrendously wrong with Closed Circuit. It has intrigue, is well shot and cast, easy to follow, and has a light air of sophistication that all British thrillers seem to possess. The premise is interesting, and, to be fair, I’m the mother of all suckers for anything British — especially if it’s a procedural.

But it never takes off. It never draws you in.

The star, Eric Bana, plays Martin Rose, a barrister who’s tapped to defend a man suspected of bombing a London market and killing a mess of fellows. The previous barrister died under rather mysterious circumstances, and, added to that, the other barrister, or rather, “special advocate” assigned to the case is the, coincidentally, Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall), the woman with whom Rose had an affair, breaking up his marriage. That raises a few questions, but there’s a few more details to address before we pose them. A “special advocate,” we’re continuously informed, is someone appointed to handle the double-secret-probation aspects of a case when the evidence involved threatens national security — and it threatens national security because there’s a public outcry for the trial to be broadcast, the broadcast portion of the trial being handled by Rose, but then the secret parts of it can’t be broadcast because they’re a threat to national security. So if the very parts of the trial that are the basis for it being broadcast (and why there’s two people working on the case) cannot be shown, why is it shown at all? And hence why have two people working on the case?

Does it matter? Whatever complications the concept presents are buried under a vague menace. On occasion we’re reminded that someone is watching these two, done with the aid of some video cameras.

Which harkens back to my original question: If we’re lead to believe that these people are being monitored and scrutinized by the very best and most invasive surveillance jockeys that England has, why is no one save for these two aware of their past.

Whatever. The major problem is that even while we know what we’re supposed to be feeling, we don’t feel it. There’s no underlying sense of danger, no real threat or malice, not even a lurking Manchester goon. There’s a weasely MI5 agent, but he’s as imposing as a sullen hunk of driftwood. There’s Ciaran Hinds and Jim Broadbent, both of whom can be nasty little bastards when they need to, but they’re neutered here. As is Bana, as is Hall.

In the end, this is a movie to be watched, maybe admired or appreciated, but not one to be particularly enjoyed, as if crafted by a machine and bereft of its spark of innovation. This is one case where the poster, slogan, and title is spot-on, for the film is every bit a sleek banality as it advertisement.

Rating 2.5/5

Closed Circuit is rated R. Directed by John Crowley. Written by Steven Knight. Starring Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Ciaran Hinds, Jim Broadbent, Julia Stiles, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Riz Ahmed, Kenneth Cranham, Barbora Bobulova, Jemma Powell, Doug Allen, James Doherty.

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