Review: Closed Circuit
PLOT: After a deadly terrorist attack at a busy London market, one man is taken into custody as a suspected member of a terrorist cell. His high profile court case gets especially complicated when two ex-lovers are hired on to defend the accused man.
CLOSED CIRCUIT presents an intriguing idea in the form of a suspense thriller surrounding a terrorist attack on London. It is deliberate and cold not unlike one of the many British crime dramas you may find on BBC. With Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall and Jim Broadbent, the cast is impressive enough as they maneuver through a world of paranoia and conspiracy. Yet it is a labored telling, one which hardly gets up and running until the end of the second act. Till then we are witness to a half-hearted mystery, one which may question who is guilty yet at times it is simply a case of who cares.
After a series of cameras display the bombing of a busy London marketplace, one man is caught almost immediately after the devastation. Suspected member of a terrorist cell Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto) is taken into custody and thus begins what is considered “the trial of the century.” However, things get complicated when Erdogan’s defense attorney unexpectedly dies and his replacement is brought in. Martin Rose (Eric Bana) takes on the case and is assigned to work with a Special Advocate – an additional government-approved defense lawyer – with whom Martin had an affair with. Both Claudia Simmons (Rebecca Hall) and Martin agree to work the case together and keep their past secret. Of course, the more they uncover about the man being charged, the more they must risk discovering the truth in the matter.
The story here as you can probably tell is quite intricate. With a script by Steven Knight (DIRTY PRETTY THINGS and EASTERN PROMISES), director John Crowley examines a very problematic and seemingly corrupt justice system. As timely as ever, he somewhat effectively maneuvers through the treacherous waters of conspiracy. Yet taking into account this is a thriller, he rarely creates any tension or suspense until near the end of the film. Even with Erdogan’s teenage son involved, there is rarely a sense of real danger. Thankfully when it comes to the more dramatic moments between the characters this low-key approach works well enough to involve the audience on a more personal level.
One problem that didn’t help matters is with the story revolving around the two defense attorneys the man they are defending is hardly explored at all. Certainly Rose and Simmons are the main focus, but seeing the accused role in all of this might have created a stronger sense of purpose. Instead they focus on the couple’s history, subtly explaining that she had a role in the end of his marriage – another sub-plot that is unsatisfactorily handled. At least both Bana and Hall give fine performances with a little bit of chemistry between the two. And frankly I give kudos to the filmmakers for avoiding a few tired clichés and poorly timed love scenes. This is a classy affair if there ever was one.
While not the most enthralling cinematic experience, at times the “slow burn” showcased a more mature work from what we generally see in this kind of film. I wanted to like it more than I actually did. It is a fascinating premise with likable leads as well as the always terrific Jim Broadbent. And even with its slow pace, the running time is only ninety-six minutes so it doesn’t necessarily overstay its welcome. It’s a film that I felt more respect for than actual enjoyment. This may be worth a look for those who enjoy a nice proper British mystery on the telly. Yet as it stands it would be near impossible to recommend going to the cinema or paying a costly VOD price. Instead, you’d be better off to wait for a home video release.