Review: Closed Circuit

Don Malvasi

Closed Circuit promises more than it delivers, simmers rather than sizzles, all the while tiptoeing around topical issues. Sparks missing, its well-acted competency merely instigates a curiosity about the highly relevant challenges of government surveillance and cover-ups. While it often whets the appetite, it ultimately goes for a paint-by-number approach–preferring to mostly duck rather that confront.

An all-powerful British secret intelligence agency, MI5, decides to put on trial a suspected ringleader of a terrorist suicide bombing that took out scores of victims. Unlike most trials, a lot of evidence will be kept secret and presented in a closed court by a seperate defense attorney from the one handling the defense in open court. A very good Rebecca Hall plays the former; Eric Bana, the latter. The law requires them to not only not have any previous ties but to stay completely clear of each other during the trial. A gaping plot hole asks the viewer to believe an all-powerful MI5 would completely miss the couple having previously had an affair. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out Hall and Bana will naughtily join forces during the movie but you may want to ignore the obvious fact that if an all-powerful government security force with something to hide was this desperate to keep secrets, they would have avoided a trial in the first place.

Cliches abound. Bana’s associate commits suicide just before the trial, forcing him to take over the case. More characters will briskly die; allies will prove to be corrupt, and Bana and Hall will manage to miraculously avoid detection–despite the omnipresent cameras–by retreating to a luxurious luxury apartment where they fall just short of physically reigniting their relationship….

…You could say the film also falls short by allowing them to do anything heroic about their situation. Closed Circuit attempts to gain validity with the subtle conclusion that we’re all just powerless pawns. It’s not hard to buy that point but it makes for rather dull entertainment. A quite-good-as-usual Jim Broadbent and the talented Ciaran Hines and Rid Ahmed (The Reluctant Fundamentalist) can only help out to a point. Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) commands our attention as she seems shellshocked that the good guys don’t always win.

2.5 Big Government’s Watching Us (out of 5 stars)

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