Synopsis: In the international suspense thriller Closed Circuit, 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.
Release Date: August 28, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Thriller, Mystery
Closed Circuit begins with a bang, literally. A terrorist attack in a crowded section of London leads to the deaths of dozens of people. A suspect, Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto from No Regrets), is promptly arrested and a pair of defense attorneys, Martin Rose (Hulk‘s Eric Bana) and Claudia Simmons-Howe (The Town‘s Rebecca Hall) are assigned to the high-profile case. As Eric is the defense barrister and Claudia is the special advocate for the accused, the two are allowed no communication with each other in preparation for the trial. The case is complicated further by the fact that the two attorneys are ex-lovers. In their independent research and interviewing of Farroukh, they find out that there is much more to the bombing than simple terrorism, and not even the British Government is above suspicion. As conspiracy theories arise, bodies begin to pile up. Martin and Claudia find themselves in a struggle to not only defend their client, but to save their own lives.
Although it comes from the producers of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the creative team behind Closed Circuit is a different group of people, and that explains the subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences in the films. Sure, they’re both conspiracy-based thrillers, but whereas Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a twist-a-minute espionage tale, Closed Circuit is more of a run-for-your-life mystery. The film was directed by John Crowley (Boy A) from a script by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises) and, while it does contain a few good surprises here and there, it’s a fairly standard legal intrigue thriller. And, although it does end up being a life-or-death situation, Closed Circuit doesn’t seem to have the same high stakes as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, so it doesn’t seem as dramatic.
Closed Circuit doesn’t set itself up to be a good spy movie, because it doesn’t focus on the spies. There’s enough mystery and suspense in the film, but the protagonists are lawyers who use their brains more than their brawn. No one is expecting a James Bond film to erupt out of Closed Circuit, but watching the characters play mental games is the equivalent of watching a chess match. It’s interesting for a while, but eventually the detective work gets tedious. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was a refreshing change from the shoot-em-up spy thriller to which audiences had become accustomed, while Closed Circuit lacks any real punch. Whereas the former knew when to let some bullets fly, the latter does not. Fans of the genre will enjoy Closed Circuit, but they’ll still find themselves waiting for some action.
The most frustrating thing about Closed Circuit is the lack of closure. Sure, it ends and wraps everything up, if not neatly then at least efficiently, but there is very little resolution with either the plot or the characters. The cop-out conclusion is, in a word, unsatisfying, and that is one feeling with which a political thriller should never leave its audience.
The most impressive aspect of Closed Circuit is the casting. Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall do the lion’s share of the work, but there is an incredible supporting cast behind them that does all that it can for the film as well. Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas) and Ciaran Hinds (There Will Be Blood) both play officials who juggle expertly between being trustworthy and sinister. Riz Ahmed (The Reluctant Fundamentalist) is an agent who is assigned to watch over and intimidate Hall’s Claudia, playing the smoothly likable antagonist role very well. Julia Stiles stars as an American journalist who tries to help Bana’s Martin sift through some of the disinformation which he has been fed. There are smaller (yet no less important) roles by Anne-Marie Duff (Nowhere Boy) and Kenneth Cranham (Hellbound: Hellraiser II) that flesh out the well-rounded cast. From top to bottom, the cast in Closed Circuit pull their collective weight.
Director of photography Adriano Goldman (Sin Nombre, The Company You Keep) keeps things interesting enough on his end. He manages to capture beautiful images of London amidst all of the chaos and confusion of the legal proceedings in the film. There is some nice suspense and tension built up, mainly by the paranoid and claustrophobic photography that Goldman sets up while following the principals around, but it’s all window dressing; Goldman’s wonderful cinematography is let down by the mediocre narrative.
The problem with the cinematography is in what is not done. The first scene in the film contains the most engrossing photography; the bombing is shown through multiple surveillance cameras around the area of the blast. This is a technique that could have and should have been exploited further to tell the story (especially in a movie called Closed Circuit). The first few minutes of the film is a truly organic method of execution of the found-footage trend, and Closed Circuit abandons it for more traditional filmmaking means immediately. And it’s a shame, because there is nowhere to go but down from there.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): John Crowley
- Screenwriter(s): Steven Knight
- Cast: Jim Broadbent (Attorney General)Eric Bana (Martin Rose)Rebecca Hall (Claudia Simmons-Howe) Ciaran Hinds (Devlin)
- Editor(s): Lucia Zucchetti
- Cinematographer: Adriano Goldman
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Joby Talbot
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA