Movies: "Closed Circuit" | Arts & Culture

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Movies: "Closed Circuit"
Movies: "Closed Circuit"


As we all know by now, London is loaded with closed circuit TV cameras and this sleek political thriller makes full use of them, starting right from the get-go, as we see multiple screen shots of a crowded farmers’ market just before a bomb goes off.  


It doesn’t take the law long to arrest a Turkish-born suspect, Erdogan (Davis Moschitto), the only known survivor of the bombing, and place his wife and son in hiding.  But because of the security issues involved in the case, there will be two separate trials, one open and one closed to the public and press.


When the original public defense lawyer apparently commits suicide, his replacement turns out to be Martin Rose (Eric Bana, of “Munich” among many others), just getting over a messy divorce.  The special defense attorney for the secret hearing just happens to be the young woman who caused that breakup:  Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall, Vicky in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”).  Once she is allowed to see the Crown’s top-secret documents on the case, she is forbidden from having any contact with her former lover.


Yeah, right.


Before you know it, the plot starts spinning around our two protagonists.  Why are Claudia’s LPs suddenly out of place?  Who is that hotshot MI5 agent (Riz Ahmad) who suddenly turns up in her supposedly locked office?  Why is a New York Times reporter (Julia Stiles) sniffing around?  Why does the same taxi keep picking up Martin, day and night?  And who is Melissa (Anne-Marie Duff) really?


Some of the answers may come from Martin’s longtime law partner Devlin (the great Ciaran Hinds), some from the genial Attorney General (Jim Broadbent), who approaches this case with all the gusto of the captain of the HMS Pinafore.  Others may stem from the defendant’s young son Emir (Hasancan Cifci).  The action is played out against the lively backdrop of today’s London (beautifully captured by Adriana Goldman, most recently the cinematographer of “The Company You Keep”).


“Closed Circuit” was written by Steven Knight, whose earlier screenplays include the superior “Eastern Promises” and “Dirty Pretty Things.”  It was directed by John Crowley, whose earlier films were such largely-overlooked efforts as “Intermission” and “Is Anybody There?”.  


It’s a stylish bit of work, but the premise dates back to such earlier paranoid thrillers as “The Parallax View” (1974), in which presidential assassinations were the trope rather than terrorism.  Devotees of spy fiction should suss the plot out long before Martina and Claudia.  To further weaken this movie, there is not much real suspense.  The plot may be sinister, but the action not so much.


Still, it’s an enjoyable late summer thriller, with a good cast and some wonderful scenes of London.  As for British courtroom drama, I recommend you rent “Witness for the Prosecution.”


“Closed Circuit” is rated R for its adult themes and nothing else.  I give it a B.

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