Jay Maidment
Owen Gleiberman
August 31, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

Closed Circuit

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
96 minutes
Wide Release Date
08/28/13
performer
Eric Bana, Jim Broadbent, Rebecca Hall
director
John Crowley
distributor
Focus Features
genre
Drama, Mystery and Thriller
We gave it a B

Closed Circuit begins with surveillance-camera footage of civilians strolling through London’s Borough Market. Then a terrorist bomb explodes, filling the footage with smoke and rubble. This shocking opening made me hope that the film would get into the hot-button issue of government-sanctioned surveillance. As it turns out, the eye of the state is watching you! motif is just window dressing, but that doesn’t mean the movie isn’t topical. It has a chillingly matter-of-fact cynicism that is very au courant.

A suspect (Denis Moschitto) is arrested for the bombing, and as the case gets ready to go to trial, two lawyers are assigned to defend him: Eric Bana as a rather prickly character who is going through a nasty divorce, and Rebecca Hall (the sensational British actress from The Town) as a special advocate who’s the only one allowed to see the classified evidence. These two had a bruised affair and are still smarting from it, but in their uneasy teamwork, they learn that MI5, the British secret service, is guarding an important secret about the suspect. Closed Circuit has a fairly standard conspiracy plot that is just nimble enough to hook us; it walks the line between sinister and plausible. We’re rooting for Bana and Hall to reveal the truth that MI5 is hiding, but if the movie targets the arrogance of Western governments in the post-9/11 world, it also does something unusual for a political thriller: It understands that arrogance. B

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