Closed Circuit, available now on home video, is a British thriller starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall as lawyers involved in defending a man accused of terrorism. After realizing the case is not as open and shut as everyone is making it seem, the two realize they are being watched and “managed” in an effort of damage control from secret wings of the government.
It’s a rather banal and straight forward plot, but what sets Closed Circuit apart from similar movies is the fact that it really digs into the modern day setting we live in day and day out, in regards to constant surveillance, government secrecy and growing bureaucracies. The themes brought forth from the film will ring familiar to many American viewers despite the film being distinctly British.
Closed Circuit is, without a doubt, the kind of movie that modern-day thrillers are going to have to force themselves to becomes if they want to be realistic. Circuit acknowledges the surveillance state we live in as well as interweaves its plot with very realistic themes of government control and failing bureaucracies.
Without giving too much away (much of the enjoyment comes from the plot slowly unfolding over 96 minutes), I will say that Closed Circuit is about two lawyers that fight for truth in the face of the unbeatable odds created by growing government and endlessly complex and dangerous geo-politics. Had this film been made 10 years ago, it’s would have been pulpy conspiracy theory. Today, it plays like a very realistic thriller yarn.
Closed Circuit includes a stellar cast and everyone is pitch perfect from the leads (Bana and Hall) to smaller players like Julia Stiles (cast as a curious reporter). John Crawley’s direction should also be noted as it manages to be stylistic in mixing surveillance footage, split screens and normal shots while never becoming cliche or frantic. The film is also photographed and edited unnaturally well for this kind of film.
What really holds the film together is the screenplay by Steven Knight (Redemption). The terrorist case in question is put together very well and sometimes scenes of dialogue and secret intrigue are so interesting, we wish the film was a spy novel as opposed to a film so characters and conversations could be more fleshed out and just keep going.
The third act goes a little off the rails, but the rest of Closed Circuit is a smartly constructed thriller that manages to realistically be about individuals in a world that respects truth and individuality less and less. It manages to be about people fighting for civil liberties in the face of growing tyranny disguising itself as justice. That, in and of itself, makes the movie worth viewing.