Dr. Donna Copeland’s
Eric Bana Rebecca Hall Ciaran Hinds Jim Broadbent Julia Stiles
By this point I wonder if Eric Bana (Hulk, The Time Traveler’s Wife) has considered giving up acting since he hasn’t had a hit in such a long time. Everything he does or touches is a failure to some degree. While virtually panned from the critics I thought Closed Circuit was a decent thriller in the veins of The Pelican Brief, The Client or Michael Clayton. Sure, it’s not as well written or as methodically mapped out, but I rather enjoyed the icy performances from Bana and especially Hall who does some of her best work.
Selected to handle a very sensitive case concerning a bombing that resulted in the deaths of over 100 people, special lawyers Martin Rose (Bana) and Claudia Simmons Howe (Hall) are supposed to prepare a case to defend the accused in closed private court because the information has been deemed a matter of national security. The more they discover about their case the more they learn about the involvement of Mi-5 and exactly what sort of interests are being protected. The paranoia rises as they race against time and the shadowy enemy who seeks to keep them from the damaging information.
The story unveils itself like peeling an onion and the closer to the center, this talking and logistics film turns into a thriller. The relationship past between our two main characters probably hurts the film the most, which reminded me of the plutonic relationship of Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington in Pelican Brief which made that so unique. The running time is also short, so for a film dealing with a lot of information, time isn’t wasted and there is no room for boredom.
The best scene of the film is given to Hall who gets a dynamic moment in the private court and really sets the film up for a diverse and suspenseful conclusion. That energy is however only sustained briefly as this film was ultimately going to end one way. Broadbent (Iris, Moulin Rouge) yet again plays a nasty, shadow character who speaks softly but with great power and judgment. Perhaps the Oscar winner has become typecast but he always brings notoriety to films as does Hinds (Veronica Guerin). In the end it’s a decent if not mediocre thriller that won’t make anyone’s top list but certainly isn’t a waste of time.
Final Thought – A shifty, quick and suspenseful thriller.
By: Dustin Chase
The opening shot of this thriller has multiple frames going at once (pictures taken by surveillance cameras at different vantage points), showing people talking as they make their way down the street on a normal day, when suddenly, there is an explosion—a terrorist attack. The presumed terrorist is captured and a “trial of the century” is expected. However, several months later, the defense attorney is suddenly found dead, and the rest of the film is about Martin Rose (Eric Bana), who is appointed to take the case, and what he uncovers. Because classified evidence to prosecute the terrorist will be used, neither the accused nor his lawyer can see it, a policy held in the UK and sometimes in this country. In such a case in the UK, a government-approved Special Advocate who has clearance to see classified information, is appointed. In Closed Circuit, Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) has been appointed to this position, which means she is constrained from communicating with the defendant or other members of the defense team, e.g., Martin Rose.
This creates complications for Rose and Simmons-Howe—which I will not go into—and provides a bit more tension and suspense in working on the case. The main plot centers around what Rose discovers as he begins to delve into the evidence—a major conspiracy involving the highest levels of government. In the course of the story, it becomes more and more clear that the filmmakers (Steven Knight, writer; John Crowley, director) have a point to make about government surveillance. The title, Closed Circuit, refers to a system of Closed Circuit Television in Britain, the government’s method of surveillance. Recent news about the NSA’s surveillance of U.S. citizens makes the film topical for both countries.
Knight (Eastern Promises; Dirty, Pretty Things) and Crowley (Boy A) have created a tight, fast-paced and suspenseful thriller with a complex plot that will appeal to devotees of spy films that involve government missteps. Eric Bana is perfect as the troubled, guilt-ridden, but fiercely committed and intelligent fighter for justice. His on-screen presence is powerfully charismatic. Rebecca Hall is great counter-point with her cool, less emotional head, and one who is just as brave.
The ending is thought-provoking, and may account for some decisions made by important people that disappoint us when we are unaware of all the constraints entering into their judgments.
By Donna R. Copeland