closedcircuitA Puzzle In Itself

 Closed Circuit
Stars: Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Ciarin Hinds, Julia Stiles, Jim Broadbent, Riz Ahmed and Jemma Powell
Director: John Crowley
Scriptwriter: Steven Knight
Focus Features
Rating: R
Running Length: 100 minutes

“Closed Circuit” is a story of what might have been. This film concerns a bombing in a London square, with two lawyers (who once were lovers) working against each other at the trial. Closing a circuit may mean pulling all the pieces together for a whole, but in this film, the pieces are still out of place, an example being Julia Stiles who is given top billing and then in the film infrequently.
The story begins with a truck being parking in a London square. This is a giveaway and within seconds there is a massive explosion, a suspect and then a trial. Two barristers (lawyers), Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall, are under special protection as they see top-secret material. When they are shown the material, which is in a large room, filled from top to bottom on shelves and on tables, with folders of evidence and it looks like a lifetime’s work to go through it. No computers here. Everything is under lock and key and they are spied upon all the time.  However, there is always a loop-hole and the two, trying not to like each other again, decide there is a cover-up (oh, really??) of huge proportions (oh, really…again) and try to figure out a way to keeping themselves alive and solving this puzzle. There are foot chases (see Rebecca run in bare feet), narrow escapes, has-someone-been-going-through-my-things? And long gazes at each other. Did I also mention double-crosses and betrayals?
Seeing Julia Stiles name in the credits with a large billing, I thought of her role in the Bourne films, but here she plays an investigative reporter with few lines. Eric Bana does fine and he acts well with Rebecca Hall, but “acts well” is the term, there is no screen chemistry here. Hall, on her own, could have done this movie without Bana.
For fans of the British television series, “Spooks,” and then on American PBS as MI-5, there is quite a similarity between “Closed Circuit” and one of the major plots in the TV series, that of a bombing in London. In the television series, there are usually two agents who disagree with each other within MI-5, and bugged rooms, secret meetings and narrow escapes, usually with foot chases, too. Nothing original under the sun. The series starred Richard Armitage and Peter Firth.
All in all, “Closed Circuit” has a European location for filming, which adds to the ambience of the movie, but the story is slow-paced and the stars are really not given that much to do. I was disappointed.
Copyright 2013 Marie Asner
For more spy/cover-up film reviews see:
The Bader Meinhoff Complex
Quantum of Solace (James Bond)
Bourne Ultimatum (Jason Bourne)