Closed Circuit (tbc)

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Review byMatthew Turner24/10/2013

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Disappointing British thriller that's let down by clunky dialogue, plodding direction, a stultifyingly dull performance from Eric Bana and a lack of chemistry between the two leads.

What's it all about?
Directed by John Crowley and written by Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things), Closed Circuit opens with a horrific terrorist attack in which a bomb explodes in London's Borough Market. Turkish immigrant Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto) is quickly charged with the crime but the evidence against him is so sensitive that he requires two defence lawyers – Barrister Martin Rose (Eric Bana) and special advocate Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall), the only person who will be allowed access to the government's evidence.

The case is further complicated by the fact that Martin and Claudia elect to keep the details of their previous love affair secret from the presiding judge (Kenneth Cranham), despite the fact that their prior relationship compromises their agreement to refrain from sharing information. However, as the court case approaches, Martin and Claudia uncover evidence of a government conspiracy that places both their lives in great danger.

The Good
Rebecca Hall is as brilliantly watchable as ever as steely Claudia, delivering a performance that is probably better than the film deserves. There's also solid support from Jim Broadbent (effectively cast against type as the quietly sinister Attorney General), Kenneth Cranham (grizzled, avuncular) and Riz Ahmed, as Claudia's smooth-talking assigned helper, who she suspects is an MI5 plant.

The film is nicely shot by Adriano Goldman and gains points for both its use of some interesting and rarely-seen London locations and for its attempts at depicting realism vis-a-vis the workings of the British judicial system. Similarly, there are a couple of nice cliché-avoiding touches, most notably a scene involving a blatantly obvious double-cross (Rule of Cinema #257: Never Trust Ciaran Hinds) that cleverly wrong-foots the audience.

The Bad
The biggest problem with the film is Eric Bana, who delivers a painfully dull and shockingly wooden performance – his line-readings are all over the place for one thing and he's also a largely unlikeable character: he doesn't seem remotely bothered when a source is killed, for example. There's also a fatal lack of chemistry between Bana and Hall – they're not at all convincing as ex-lovers, which stops that plotline dead in its tracks.

On top of that, the dialogue is woefully clunky throughout – only the scenes with Hall and Ahmed have any kind of spark to them. Similarly, Crowley's direction is plodding and the script never adequately explores its ideas, despite raising interesting and relevant questions about surveillance, privacy, terrorism laws and governments insisting on private trials (cf. Bradley Manning).

Worth seeing?
Closed Circuit is a disappointingly dull thriller that never sparks to life thanks to a lacklustre script and a shockingly poor central performance from Eric Bana.

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Closed Circuit (tbc)
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Content updated: 19/01/2020 00:43

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