Director: John Crowley
Studio: Working Title Films
Stars: Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Ciarán Hinds
Surveillance cameras lurking on every street corner and in every building to snoop on our every move. Digital data of our every word and utterance not-so-secretly captured for others to sift and parse. Our emails, searches, reading material and viewing preferences monitored and evaluated. It’s the new world order of high alert, constant conflict, incessant peeping and trials behind closed doors, and there’s no turning back. In the war between survival and national security, a police state reigns and personal privacy is dead and buried. Everyone’s watching everyone in Closed Circuit, a new courtroom thriller meant to seem timely and terrifying but feeling like very old news, especially after the secret hearings of the Chelsea Manning trial and conviction and the ongoing NSA controversy. What a shame, too, considering the movie's pedigree that includes a screenplay by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises), the directorial eye of John Crowley (Boy A) and a cast that includes Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Jim Broadbent, Ciarán Hinds, Julia Stiles and the like. But, in the end, Closed Circuit is a predictable, painfully serious and clumsily written meant-to-be throwback to the golden era of paranoid political thrillers like Three Days of the Condor and The Parallax View, let alone more recent ones like the smart, knowing BBC series Edge of Darkness. At least Bana is less sullen and chilly than usual playing a Brit attorney charged with defending an immigrant (Denis Moschitto) who has been accused of planning the shocking terrorist bombing of a busy Borough Market in London—a jangling, excellent sequence that opens the film. Appointed to the same case by Attorney General Broadbent (hamming it up) is Hall, who just happens to be the woman with whom the depressed, disillusioned Bana wrecked his own marriage. You'd certainly never know it from Bana and Hall's scenes together, in which they generate zero romantic or erotic heat. Every plot twist and turn, every dialogue-heavy scene, every camera setup and music cue merely ticks off a series of standard genre boxes that find our hero and heroine discovering that they and fellow cast members are merely chess pieces in a game that is not only thoroughly corrupt but also goes straight to the top echelons of MI5. With its implicit cynicism about the mess in which we find ourselves, Closed Circuit is full of justified rage and noble intentions. But it’s also so talky, meandering, polite and flatly directed that it's a clunker. The only eyes that may be on this one are those of the closed-circuit cameras in the theater.