Closed Circuit Reviews
Good Film! Closed Circuit is a good, although unexceptional, suspense movie. The movie has a strong start but a weak finale, and somewhere in the middle looses stream and starts plodding along to its inevitable conclusion. The story itself tests the limits of plausibility and features principal characters who have little warmth and fail to generate much empathy. The question of government duplicity is treated in an unimaginative manner and fails to generate any sense of concern or outrage. Yet the movie does entertain by generating a certain level of tension, albeit watered down. The question of cover up sustains the story and adds an element of tension. Yet there are no heroes which makes the ending anticlimactic. That certain scenes are set at a football game is unoriginal. Further, the alleged victim of a miscarriage of justice is hardly worthy of empathy and the same goes for his family, especially the fourteen year old son who belongs in juvenile detention. The acting is cheesy, the cinematography unspectacular, the story twists and turns predictable and the movie theme muddled. Yet, this movie should be watched because it dramatizes what happens when the truth is suppressed and transparency is discarded in favor of secrecy.
A high-profile terrorism case unexpectedly binds together two ex-lovers on the defense team - testing the limits of their loyalties and placing their lives in jeopardy.
Since time immemorial, courtroom drams have served as a way for dramatists to explore the issues of the day.(I would like to submit "Anatomy of a Murder" as exhibit A.) And that's what "Closed Circuit" attempts to do with the current security state. With the the exception a very good cast(that also includes Ciaran Hinds, Anne-Marie Duff & Riz Ahmed), one great line concerning the (in)accuracy of British tabloids and one comment by a govnernment official who has no idea what the meaning of freedom is, the movie fails, largely due to its leaps of logic and overly expository dialogue expressed by characters and a movie that have already made up their mind, leaving little room for any kind of character development. Since this is set in the wake of a terrorist attack that kills 120 people, one should realistically expect more of an emotional response than a polite discussion of changed security procedures.
Eric Bana was ok, but I thought that Clive Owen would have been better in the role. With Rebecca Hall, she was also ok, but thought that Rosmand Pike would have been better in that role. I didn't think that Bana and Hall had a good on screen chemistry. Jim Broadbent was a bit over the top in some scenes. The best one in my opinion was Julia Stiles. She steals the film and she is in a few scenes. She also seems like she doesn't fit with the rest of the cast.
What Closed Circuit did well was create the sort of hyper-aware state of tension we are in the West, especially true of the incredibly surveilled city of London. The backdrop of this makes Closed Circuit feel timely, with a fair amount of paranoia. Director John Crowley did a good job using this paranoia to fuel the tension on screen, heightening the stakes appropriately. I also appreciated the legal framework for which the film is set in, exploring the Orwellian system that has both "secret evidence" and "fairness". The performances are also strong, with the underrated Eric Bana having a fair amount of chemistry with Rebecca Hall.
Where Closed Circuit fails, or at least underachieves, is in its climax and resolution. We see the beats before they occur, with the ending having a curiously ambiguous tone.
The film seemed to lack a daring sensibility to it, almost appearing critical of its subject, yet never fully thrusting itself in to it. Instead, it opted for an easier avenue, with predictable outcomes and bland commentary.
The film opens with a crowded London market (Borough market) being destroyed through an explosive terrorist attack. Farroukh Erdogan is detained as the primary suspect and mastermind of the attack while his two alleged co-conspirators are killed in attempts to apprehend them. Lawyers Martin Rose and Claudia Simmons-Howe are selected by the British Attorney General to represent Farroukh in court after the previous lawyer fell off a roof. The two lawyers secretly had an affair in the past, which became known to Martin's wife and has caused an alienation from her and their son. Due to the classified nature of the sources in the trial, the trial is split into two divisions. Claudia will represent Farroukh in closed hearings to attempt to determine which classified pieces of information are required for his defense. Martin will represent him in the open trial using information allowed by the closed hearings. The two lawyers are not allowed to contact one another. In the beginning the story was built carefully and we will soon find out why the couple was chosen for this "assignment".
This was an interesting viewing for an episode of a TV show, but the lack of chemistry between Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall was so obvious that was impossible to stand at the moments. Eric Bana was a great comedian at his early Australian years, but since he went to the United States, I could not remember one role which could stand out! The directing was too predictable and simply boring. Safe, unchallenging and very low key. This was an opportunity which was squandered because of the directing and screenplay, and the wrong casting... too many things for one movie.
The whole film has this drab look, while still trying to be stylish. It's clearly drawing inspiration from the latest Bourne films in its attempt to portray the intelligence community in a post 9/11 world. However, it doesn't do it in an effective manner.
What bothers me so much about this film is that it can't make up its mind what it wants to be. Court room drama, government conspiracy theory film, spy thriller, what is it trying to be? The problem is it's trying to be all of them, and isn't effective at any of them.