Sunday, August 25, 2013

Closed Circuit Movie Review

Eric Bana and Ciarán Hinds (r) in Closed Circuit

Closed Circuit: Fair and Transparent

It's hard to walk away from John Crowley's Closed Circuit without the feeling that something was missing. What that missing ingredient is, remains up for debate: It's not the acting (splendid, especially Eric Bana in the lead role) nor the story itself (government mischief, terrorism... sounds good to me.) Perhaps it's the sleepy setting of London, an even sleepier British cover-up (where's Anthony Weiner when you really need him?) or the apparent lack of sizzle between Bana and Rebecca Hall: What/Whoever it is... I just couldn't shake a feeling of disappointment.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: In the international suspense thriller "Closed Circuit," a high-profile terrorism case unexpectedly binds together two ex-lovers on the defense team - testing the limits of their loyalties and placing their lives in jeopardy. One morning, a busy London market is decimated by an explosion. In the manhunt that follows, only one member of the suspected terrorist cell survives: Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto), who is arrested and jailed. Preparations begin for what promises to be the trial of the century. But there's a hitch: the government will use classified evidence to prosecute Erdogan, evidence so secret that neither he nor his lawyers can be allowed to see it. Hence the need for the Attorney General (Academy Award winner Jim Broadbent) to appoint a Special Advocate, an additional government-approved defense lawyer (Claudia Simmons-Howe, played by Golden Globe Award nominee Rebecca Hall), one who has clearance to see classified evidence and who can argue for its full disclosure when the trial moves to "closed" session. The rules for the Special Advocate are clear: once the secret evidence is shared with her, Claudia will not be allowed to communicate even with the defendant or with other members of the defense team. But just as the case is on the eve of going to trial, Erdogan's lawyer dies suddenly, and a new defense attorney, Martin Rose (Eric Bana), quickly steps in. Martin is tenacious, driven, and brilliant - and an ex-lover of Claudia's. The two lawyers make an uncomfortable pact to keep their former affair hidden. But as Martin begins to piece the case together, the outlines of a sinister conspiracy emerge, one that will draw him and Claudia dangerously close again.

What’s Best: Although not nearly as colorful as he was in 2012's Deadfall, Bana delivers yet another stellar performance. Billed as a bad boy of sorts, 'He's famously awful,' and 'I'm an arrogant, insensitive prick,' Bana has no trouble selling his audience anything: I only wish Crowley gave him more to work with. His character (Martin) says it best, 'We're being managed.'

Crowley's film (management issues aside) still works on many levels. It's smartly shot... downright stylish in spots. The story is easy to follow, and contains all the necessary twists and turns to keep you engaged to the end. It needs oomph... something Bana (and co-star Ciarán Hinds) are more than capable enough to supply; but gets the job done, as is.

What’s Not: Closed Circuit doesn't seem to live up to its own billing. "The biggest, most high profile murder case in British history?" Methinks not. That's not to say it's boring; but be careful what you advertise. Far more accurate is Broadbent's 'There is a certain inevitability to it all.'

Bana and Hall don't mix well together, 'In so many ways, you were the worst thing that happened to me,' says Martin; to which Claudia replies, 'You were undoubtedly the worst thing that happened to me.' I couldn't agree more. I got more out of the friendship between Bana and Hinds: When Bana chides Hinds for smoking, the latter responds, 'Patches don't work for me. My skin's too thick.' Now that's chemistry!

Best Line: Lest you think I don't like Hall... think again. She steals the show when a guard asks her if he should stay during the questioning of Claudia's client. 'No, but could you take the vomit with you?' Better still, Hinds' Devlin cracks the whip with resounding success, 'Well at least speak clearly... for the sake of the typist,' when chatting with Martin in a bugged room.

Overall: Pardon me, if I tell you I've seen this movie a dozen times before. So many times in fact, that 'fair and transparent' means just that. Bana, Hinds and company are good (Hall too, especially without Bana) but collectively, do little to boost Crowley's slightly better than average effort. Worth a look if Law & Order isn't on the telly (hmm... what are the odds?)