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Closed Circuit ••

Closed_Circuit_filmStarring: Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Jim Broadbent
Director: John Crowley
Screenplay: Steven Knight
Action/Crime, Rated: R
Running Time: 96 minutes
Release Date: August 28, 2013


(Dr. Scott Allison, Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond)

Greg, it looks like we have another corrupt democratic government out to do harm to the good guys.  For a change, it isn’t the U.S. government.

Closed Circuit, strangely, isn’t about cameras but about circuit courts. Let’s take a look…

The film opens with a bang, literally, as we witness a terrorist bomb go off on a crowded London street, killing 120 civilians.  Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto) is arrested and charged with masterminding the attack, and two lawyers, Martin Rose and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall) are assigned the task of defending Erdogan in court.  Rose and Simmons-Howe are not allowed to speak to each other, as Rose is assigned the task of defending Erdogan in open court while Simmons-Howe is assigned the separate task of defending him during a closed hearing that weighs classified evidence.

Things are going well when Rose realizes that Erdogan was actually an MI-5 agent. That means that the government is indirectly responsible for the bombing and Rose starts to get pressure from shadowy characters to let the courts hang Erdogan in the name of patriotism. Things start to get exciting when Rose tells Simmons and they are on the run.

Greg, I had mixed feelings about Closed Circuit.  On the positive side, the film is slick, sleek, and stylish.  The pacing is excellent and director John Crowley deserves kudos for some clever camera work and some smart, judicious editing.  We even have two very appealing heroes in Rose and Simmons, who show great chemistry and romantic sizzle.

On the negative side, I was disappointed that two obviously intelligent heroes could make so many questionable decisions. Rose and Simmons display incredible naiveté and end up backing themselves into the darkest of corners.  Innocent people die because of their stupidity, making it hard for me to root for them despite their obvious virtue and charm.

This film was strangely prophetic having completed filming in October of 2012, just months before the bombing of Boston in April of 2013. I was surprised that the film was still released under these circumstances. In many ways it was very reminiscent of the events of that case. Strangely, the use of closed circuit cameras which played a big part of catching the instigators of the Boston bombing had no place in a movie about the same topic called Closed Circuit.

I had similar misgivings about the logic these characters used.  Rose realizes that his predecessor had been killed for the knowledge that MI-5 had a part in the bombing. Then proceeds to tell several people about his misgivings. Only in the movies would someone be so stupid.

Yes, several times I slapped my forehead with my palm, exasperated that Rose would essentially do the opposite of what anyone with an ounce of common sense would do.  That’s pretty much an unforgivable offense.  Surely both of our heroes would realize how much they were in over their heads.  Is it a surprise that virtually everyone they confide in turns out to betray them? And when Simmons knows she has a bulls eye target on her forehead, does it make sense to go home to an apartment that is all glass with mini-blinds that are never pulled shut?  And then appear surprised at the possibility that someone might be watching her?

I really wanted to like this movie, because our heroes are so likeable and have such an interesting history and lusty spark for each other.  But they show questionable judgment over and over again.  What a shame.

I actually had a lot of trouble with the direction of this movie, contrary to your earlier accolades. The movie plods along in a characteristically British fashion. The few chase scenes in the film were merely people walking fast to avoid being caught. And some of them were filmed as though the characters were being tracked by closed circuit cameras – which ultimately had nothing to do with the story. I found it annoying and distracting.

I’m not sure where the hero’s journey is in this movie. By the end of the film our heroes come together but they seem unchanged by the events of the film. They are no better, or even worse off than when the film started. Aside from the revelation that the government was involved in the bombing and subsequent cover up, there isn’t a lot of excitement in this film.

I agree, Greg, that the hero story is largely absent.  We have two failed individuals whose only consolation is that after all the carnage they’re partly responsible for, they’ve at least rekindled their romance.  If that’s the transformation that’s supposed to move us and stir us, it most definitely falls flat.  For that reason, I give Closed Circuit just 1 Hero out of 5.

The film overall was a bit stronger, due to some fine performances by Bana and Hall and also to some impressive direction and pacing.  Closed Circuit didn’t impress me but it did somewhat entertain me despite my frustrations with the actions of the lead characters.  I award this movie 2 Reels out of 5.

Movie: reel-2 Heroes: superman-1

There were a number of attempts to pull at the heart strings. There is a subplot regarding Rose’s divorce and his relationship with his 12-year-old son that goes nowhere. It could easily have been left out of the film and no one would be the wiser. For a dry and slow presentation I give Closed Circuit 2 Reels out of 5. And for a mostly absent hero’s story I award the film a mere 1 out of 5 Heroes.

Movie: reel-2 Heroes: superman-1

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