Disappointing crime drama saved by being set in London.
Director: John Crowley (Is Anybody There?)
Screenplay: Steven Knight (Redemption)
Cast: Eric Bana (Hanna), Jim Broadbent (The Crying Game)
Runtime: 96 min
by John DeSando
“From infancy on, we are all spies; the shame is not this but that the secrets to be discovered are so paltry and few.” John Updike
Crime dramas involving international heavy weights like the super British spy agency, MI5, are durable, reeking of intrigue and inscrutability. Such is the case of Closed Circuit with its terrorism incident killing scores of civilians and a subsequent trial at Old Bailey, where Martin Rose (Eric Bana) has been appointed defense counsel for accused spy, Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto). Many questions are unanswered before the trial, not the least of the answers sealed in documentation not even the accused may see.
The plot has intelligent qualities; the execution not so. Martin’s colleague, Claudia (Rebecca Hall), is a special advocate for the defense—only she may see the secret information. Unfortunately they had an affair, a fact that may compromise their case. One of the main players in the investigation is a young boy, a plot turn with possibilities but never fully exploited.
And so it goes, nothing really new after that. Some good guys turn out to be bad, MI5 is not transparent, and the accused is not who we thought he was. The closed circuit motif, introduced at the titles and interspersed throughout, is not as important as the title and occasional shots would suggest. Except for the shots of London around the Eye, nothing seems to be worth spending millions on the film for.
After the secrets have been revealed and the plot twist dutifully rendered, you may leave the theater feeling you missed something. You didn’t. It’s all a part of the requirements of the genre, perhaps a comforting feeling that you knew it all along. As for me, I missed what it could have been in my favorite city in the world.
John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at WCBE.org. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com