D: John Crowley / 96m
Cast: Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Ciarán Hinds, Jim Broadbent, Riz Ahmed, Anne-Marie Duff, Julia Stiles, Kenneth Cranham, Denis Moschitto
When a bomb goes off at a London market, the investigation leads to the arrest of Farroukh Erdogan (Moschitto). Government evidence that might support his case must be deliberated in closed court before an open trial can be conducted. Following the death of Erdogan’s lawyer, Martin Rose (Bana) is asked by the Attorney General (Broadbent) to represent the suspect at the open trial, while Claudia Simmons-Howe (Hall) is chosen to represent Erdogan at the closed hearings. Neither can be in contact with each other once the government evidence is submitted, but as both become aware they’re being followed, they begin to realise there’s more to the case than meets the eye.
Martin discovers that Erdogan is an MI5 agent who was working within the terrorist cell that carried out the bombing. With Erdogan refusing to confirm or deny anything, it’s unclear if he has double-crossed MI5, or the cell has set him up instead. Meanwhile, Claudia learns that Farroukh’s family are more involved than anyone thought. Claudia and Martin choose to work together – in spite of the risk of being disbarred – and endeavour to find out if MI5 had any further, more damaging involvement in the bombing.
Closed Circuit wants to be topical and thought-provoking but is too predictable – and cynical – to be entirely effective. Government involvement in terrorist matters is hardly news, and the idea that a cover up might be taking place is clear from the outset. The cat-and-mouse game that follows ticks all the relevant boxes – murder made to look like suicide, an MI5 overseer (Ahmed) who makes veiled threats, the revelation of a colleague working against Martin and Claudia – and there’s a subplot around Martin and Claudia’s having had an affair in the past that is dramatically redundant, but on the whole, the movie is a well-crafted, if obvious thriller that never quite takes off. Bana and Hall don’t quite gel as a couple, Crowley’s direction is efficient if indistinctive, and the script by Steven Knight isn’t as sharp as it needs to be.
Rating: 6/10 – as a paranoid conspiracy thriller, Closed Circuit is neither exciting nor provocative enough to succeed fully; with its idea of a government cover up, it’s also thirty years too late to provide much of a surprise.