2013, R, 96 min. Directed by John Crowley. Starring Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Ciarán Hinds, Jim Broadbent, Denis Moschitto, Riz Ahmed, Anne-Marie Duff, Kenneth Cranham, Julia Stiles.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 30, 2013
I'd gladly pay to see Jim Broadbent do pretty much anything – act, sing, putter around in his garden, snooze for a while – but even he can't save this taut, stylish, but finally meh foray into the shadowy landscape of high-echelon statecraft gone haywire. Throughout Closed Circuit, it repeatedly struck me that the film I was watching was, essentially, V for Vendetta, with all the fun sucked out of it. The closest thing here to the righteous moral outrage of the prime Anon V is Eric Bana's morally malleable barrister Martin Rose. That's hardly a fair fight for the future, is it?
Rose, who spends his off hours sculling the Thames beneath a perpetually overcast sky, is called to defend the apparently indefensible: Farroukh Erdogan (Moschitto), who is the lone suspect in a massive terrorist bombing in a London market. To shake things up, Erdogan's special advocate before the Crown is Claudia Simmons-Howe (Hall), who just happens to be the other end of the affair that terminated Rose's marriage. The pair are not permitted to see or speak to each other lest they sully their casework, but it's not long before Rose, egged on by The New York Times London bureau chief (Stiles, in what amounts to a cameo), suspects foul play in the "suicide" of his predecessor and is forced to warn his former bedmate that the loose ends she's been twining together might end up as the proverbial noose around her neck.
Closed Circuit updates (correctly, we know in hindsight) the paranoiac vision of Seventies films such as The Parallax View and Three Days of the Condor while adding the contemporary freak-out over widespread surveillance. Still, the revelations of evildoers clogging the corridors of power pack very little punch; we're all too aware that such malfeasance and malignity have become the status quo in the real world.
Bana and Hall acquit themselves well enough, and, like Broadbent (he's cast as the mischievously vile attorney general), I'd be up for kicking back and watching Irish thesp Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones’ Mance Rayder) mime the collected works of Edward Bulwer-Lytton while costumed as a raccoon. (Seriously, why isn't this guy a household meme?) Riz Ahmed, best known in the states for his comic turn in Four Lions, is another bright spot in a generally dreary film. Closed Circuit wants very, very much to be "ripped from today's headlines" but it fails to realize the 24-hour intranet news cycle has already rendered its cautionary tale totally, like, yesterday. Think not? I'd wager David Miranda disagrees with you.