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A clever, low-key thriller, Closed Circuit has more in common with Tinker Tailor than Jason Bourne. It’s a typically English conspiracy, exploring similar issues of modern political morality as Bill Nighy’s Page Eight.

This is most definitely not a running / shooting / shouting action-adventure thriller. Nor is it a courtroom drama although many of the tense moments come in the closed chambers of a confidential hearing. Instead, Closed Circuit is a slow-burn investigation of the background to a terrorist attack in London, where the two defence lawyers start tugging on threads which might undermine the prosecution case… and could also see them garrotted in a dark alley, late at night.
Like other recent political thrillers (Rendition springs to mind), this low-budget but well-written film explores the uncomfortable aspects of the ambiguous and restrictive legislation which superficially aims to keep citizens safe, but which in practice degrades personal liberty and the rule of law while empowering the security services to break all their own rules. There are clear echoes of Dr David Kelly’s suicide in here, and a gathering sense of mistrust in those people who are supposed to be protecting us.
This is fiction, however, so for dramatic purposes the two lead characters inevitably have to behave in ways which their real-world counterparts wouldn’t – putting themselves at risk and confronting the establishment (and its lethal operatives) head on. Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall turn in creditable performances, and some of the best moments come in their early verbal sparring sessions as they jostle for intellectual superiority.
However, Closed Circuit doesn’t have the superb style or script of the Worricker Trilogy, and nor does it have such a satisfying ending. The finale is narratively honest – but for dramatic purposes it was somewhat unsatisfying. Some special features – perhaps the thoughts of the writer / director on the motivation for making this film – would have been nice, too.

A thought-provoking film, and a reasonably enjoyable one. However, it's likely to be one of those B-movies which is barely remembered in a couple of years from now.
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on 19 August 2014
Its a bread and butter thriller this one. Bana and Hall play barristers who are working on a massive case opposite each other, and they had an affair some time in the past.

Obviously there are conflicts of interest, and some professionals have worked on the script, because all the Jargon and plot holes are very clever and hold your interest for more than two minutes.

Lo and behold though, there is conspiracy afoot, and Tariq from Eastenders appears in Halls office from time to time offering his card several times. Bana is conflicted,that's why he rows a boat for sport, Hall is classy, and Stiles pops up in a worthless cameo.

But how come Jim Broadbent plays the worst deep throat ever committed to celluloid? He may as well be called Basil Exposition, and wear a T-shirt saying 'I'm your friend, but I'm really a bit of a bad guy, so I'll warn you subliminally, but don't cross me'.

Twenty years ago, this would have starred Michael Douglas and Demi Moore as the leads, and Charlton Heston would have been the deep throat character.

The only difference is, the film made in 1994 would have been one of the hits of the year. Why (ironically) this went under the radar, is because, despite the brilliant acting from all involved, and some quite tense moments, it's the same thing that has been churned out since Beatty was in The Parallex View'.

Its forty years of if it ain't broken don't fix it, and its becoming tiresome.

But it's set in London, there's always London....
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VINE VOICEon 29 October 2014
It can't be said that this "don't mess with the powerful" thriller breaks new ground but it covers the old ground in a more than acceptable manner with good performances turned in by actors playing credible characters.

Two Barristers are working on a terrorism trial and it turns out that the state doesn't want every stone turned over. They've got previous and it could cause them professional problems.

It's British rather than American so there is less hyperbole and fewer statements of the obvious presented as constitutional matters requiring a Congressional Inquiry and (IMHO...) better scenery.

Enjoyable if not award winning.
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on 27 October 2013
After a terrorist bombing in London, Simon (James Lowe) and Claudia (Rebecca Hall) are appointed special defense attorneys for the accused (Denis Moschitto). After Simon has an untimely suicide Martin (Eric Bana) takes over his spot. His presence there is a violation of the rules as he and Claudia were once an item. As they investigate the case, they discover it wasn't a simple terrorist bombing. There are things which don't add up. They soon realize their lives are in danger.

This is a slightly twisty drama with a touch of court room drama and a little action tossed in. The film keeps you mentally engaged for the most part, but then dies at the end without a real climax. No Jack Nicholson saying, "You can't handle the truth," just an elderly distinguished man having breakfast calmly explaining the ways of the world.

Did Rebecca Hall put on weight?
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on 10 December 2013
"Closed Circuit" (2013 release from the UK; 96 min.) brings the story of an alleged Turkish terrorist who sets off a major bomb in central London, killing scores of people. The movie moves foward six months when we get to know Martin (played by Eric Bana), a defense lawyer who is taking over for his boss/mentor Simon, who apparently has just killed himself. We also get to know Claudia (played by Rebecca hall), a special advocate and hence also defending the interests of the terrorist suspect (albeit in a different way from the 'regular' defense lawyer--the movie explains it all in much greater detail). As it happens, we learn that Claudia and Martin had an affair at one point, and don't like each other much anymore. Last, we also get to know Joanna (played by Julia Stiles), a New York Times reporter who is following the case closely. Other than scetching these basic introductions, I really don't want to reveal anything more of this plot-heavy movie, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out. Just be prepared to be surprised!

Couple of comments: as the movie starts and the opening credits roll, we get dozens of views from the hundreds and thousands of closed circuit TV monitors that litter central London, and my first reaction to that was "who is minding all this information? hello, National Security Agency! but who's watching the NSA?". In that sense, the producers of this movie have been incredibly lucky with the timing of its release as NSA and similar agencies are on the minds of a lot of people, including myself. Second, keep in mind that this is a terrorist/political thriller, and hence that not everything or everyone is what they seem to be. Third, there is not a lot of 'action' in this movie but the movie is paced very tightly and flew by in no time for me.

The screening I saw this at in the theatre here in Cincinnati this past August was reasonably well attended. The lucky timing of its release probably had something to do with it, but to be honest, even without the attention in the recent months on the NSA, this still would be a great movie. I enjoyed it much more than I had expected. Bottom line: "Closed Circuit" is well worth checking out, be it in the theatre or on DVD/Blu-ray.
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on 27 October 2014
Closed Circuit is a routine conspiracy thriller which taps into the current terrorist threat facing the West. There is a surprising lack of tension or excitement - cool heads may be an asset in the legal profession but the two leads playing the legal eagles are so calm - at least until the murder attempt.
The story itself in terms of displaying the corruption and incompetency of MI5 is incredulous - not saying the state doesn't do dirty tricks or run double agents while allowing murder to take place to maintain their cover but why risk even allowing the under cover bomber to even reach court were it runs the risk of him revealing his double agent status. This simply would not be allowed to happen - at best he would face rendition or death - so instead for the purpose of the film not only does he get taken out , so does a journalist and another lawyer and an failed murder bid on another lawyer all involved in the case - really silly.
The sloppy use of the same taxi number is also unlikely as are the nervous twitches of the spymaster on the witness stand - the remit for the actress must have been - look as guilty as possible. For the uninitiated showing how the state suppresses evidence in the name of national security is worth noting but the director has taken an easy target and thrown credibility out the window. I actually liked Broadbent's quiet menacing performance. The least said about Bana's native accent seeping through the better
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An excellent film about terrorism, the role of closed circuit cameras and their use by secret organisations to protect us - or are they protecting us ? The film focusses on the covert operations of MI5 their tactics , mistakes and the lengths they're prepared to go to stop themselves from appearing amateurish. You need to watch the film carefully as there are a lot of clues to what's actually going on, and you soon realise that you can't trust anyone. An intelligent film without any car chases or soppy sentimentality so prevalent in most modern films.
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VINE VOICEon 19 July 2014
This felt an oddly decaffeinated thriller. I emphasize oddly because the cast look excellent and the blurb on the front cover- "They see your every move", might indicate a new digital update on the 'Enemy of the state' surveillance genre. But if I was expecting a taut John Grisham style thriller I could forget it. Hall is excellent and as usual very watchable but oh my word the plot! I've never come across so many glaring gaps and blazingly obvious plot twists. It felt like a first time screenwriters draft at times such were the convenient jumps in story arc. The whole structure ultimately lacked style, wit or panache. The jeering in the House of Commons at the end was reminiscent of such British film debacles as 'Who Dares Wins' in the 1980s. Eric Bana has his plus points but he was completely wrong for this part I'm afraid. Someone like Russel Crowe or Daniel Craig might have breathed life into the script but in essence this was nothing more than an overblown episode of Spooks aspiring to be a John Grisham classic. As for the surveillance angle, this really drifted in terms of sub-theme. Bourne, Mission Impossible and even lightweight 90s movies like Eraser have all utilised electronic intrusion and government conspiracy more skillfully. Here, the surveillance angle seemed an awkward after thought nailed on to provide a neat promo line for future art work. Also, the repeated 'escapes' by the protagonists were handled with all the drama of childrens television. No extras on the DVD and sadly no extras in the film really! Two stars for Rebecca who rescues it all from complete farce but they should have done better with the talent on offer.
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on 15 September 2014
An unattractive film full of unattractive people if this failed to get an audience or make its money back I'm not a bit surprised. If I'd realised how much I would dislike the performances and the actors giving them, particularly the excruciating female lead, I would never have gone near this.
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on 28 June 2014
Interesting film that will keep your attention and creates talking points of 'Do you think this kind of thing really goes on'. I was however disappointed to see that after the bomb explosion at the beginning they then used footage of the London bombings as the opening credits to show the emergency services responding to what was supposed to be their terrorist incident. Got a bit confused as to what year it was supposed to be set in - turns out its 2012. Excellent performance from Bana as usual.
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