Rated: R for language and brief violence. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: August 28, 2013 Released by: Focus Features
Eric Bana (Star Trek, Munich) and Rebecca Hall (Frost/Nixon, Please Give) highlight a U.K. thriller that really doesn't deliver the goods given the timely relevance of its political context replete with government conspiracy and national security.
Closed Circuit immerses one into current Britain legalese and refers to the native soil's ranging surveillance monitoring as terrorism has vanquished over one-hundred people in bustling London agora.
The crux of an uninspired tale spruced up at times visually (e.g. split-screens) has a couple of noticeable narrative shifts to quicken its pulse is supposedly connected to chief young Turkish suspect (Denis Moschitto), the new client of barrister Martin Rose (Bana apparently doing his best accent-wise) and his "special advocate" Claudia (Hall) six months after London erupted in chaos (and the subsequent off-camera search). You see, Martin and Claudia are old flames which wrecked the former's marriage, as the latter goes through "closed" (more familial) evidence while Martin interviews cabbies (after the unclear circumstances surrounding the death of the previous defense attorney) .
Irish theater director John Crowley (Boy A) doesn't generate much tension from attorney point-of-view after establishing earlier adulterous relations. It could be a take-off as done with more levity in romantic comedy but this kind of case perhaps strangles some of the intriguing possibility since the partners aren't permitted to have contact. The result seems to hamper Bana more so who performs better when together with the versatile British thespian (see Vicky Cristina Barcelona). The notion of something startling at stake and rising to the fore never really takes hold for much of the manageable run-time, less when it concerns how their personal choices would affect their client, Farroukh Erdogan.
Some secondary characters like Jim Broadbent as the Attorney General, Riz Ahmed as a spy, and Ciaran Hinds (offering more nuance in a tricky espionage meller from John Madden, The Debt) as a "fixer" can underscore the ambivalence into what those steadfastly are trying to accomplish for the perpetrator. Yet, even with what amounts to a cameo from the usually proficient Julia Stiles (Silver Linings Playbook) as an investigative journalist nothing is able to lift or bring resonance to the banality of material which seemed more vital and immediate at the outset. Even with all of the judicial happenings predicated on the truth revealing itself.
So, Closed Circuit has its share of attractive, capable performers, but in the less definitive hands of Crowley and writer Steven Knight (who penned the far more penetrating and sensitively drawn Eastern Promises) it's more of an inconsequential, misleading late-summer potboiler. Sans the voyeuristic, contemporary paranoia when it comes to a Bradley Manning and (not closed) Snowden to propagate more thoughtful, dynamic post 9/11 fare where Bana and Hall could be more striking than frustrating.