Eric Bana, Jim Broadbent and Rebecca Hall underserved by John Crowley's melodramatic legal thriller
John Crowley’s Closed Circuit sets itself up as an intelligent examination of the British judicial system in the wake of the war on terror but eventually falls some way short of having anything worthwhile to say.
It begins in emphatic fashion, with a bomb being detonated in London's Borough Market as seen from the perspective of 12 CCTV cameras. It then jumps forward six months as the sole surviving suspect is awaiting trial and a new defence counsel, Martin Rose (Eric Bana), is appointed to the case by the Attorney General (Jim Broadbent). This, in turn, raises a possible conflict of interest with his co-counsel, Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall), the Special Advocate on the case, who is an ex-lover of Rose, and who mustn’t be seen to have any contact with him beyond a certain point. But as the trial date nears, Rose and Howe begin to suspect they are part of a wider conspiracy and cover-up that places their own lives at risk.
Based on a script by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Peaky Blinders), Crowley’s thriller raises questions about some intriguing quirks in the British legal system as well as the impact of CCTV and the erosion of civil liberties, but it fails to make good on its vast potential. The decision to include a romantic sub-plot serves up some unnecessary melodrama, while certain plot directions require too big a leap of faith. If Crowley was hoping to induce a feeling of paranoia and uncertainty throughout, akin to some of the great conspiracy thrillers of the 70s, then his film also fails, simultaneously wasting a genuinely impressive cast, with the likes of Ciaran Hinds, Kenneth Cranham, Riz Ahmed and Julia Stiles all under-employed. Closed Circuit may tackle some heavyweight issues but it ends up feeling lightweight.
General release from Fri 25 Oct.