A clever, low-key thriller, Closed Circuit has more in common with Tinker Tailor than Jason Bourne. It’s a typically English conspiracy, exploring similar issues of modern political morality as Bill Nighy’s Page Eight, and harking back to the days of Sandbaggers and beyond.
This is most definitely not a running / shooting / shouting action-adventure thriller. Nor is it a courtroom drama although many of the tense moments come in the closed chambers of a confidential hearing. Instead, Closed Circuit is a slow-burn investigation of the background to a terrorist attack in London, where the two defence lawyers start tugging on threads which might undermine the prosecution case… and could also see them garrotted in a dark alley, late at night.
Like other political thrillers of the post-9/11 era (Rendition springs to mind), this low-budget but well-constructed film explores the uncomfortable aspects of the ambiguous and restrictive legislation which superficially aims to keep citizens safe, but which in practice degrades personal liberty and the rule of law while empowering the security services to break all their own rules. There are clear echoes of Dr David Kelly’s suicide in here, and a gathering sense of mistrust in those people who are supposed to be protecting us.
This is fiction, however, so for dramatic purposes the two lead characters inevitably have to behave in ways which their real-world counterparts wouldn’t – putting themselves at risk and confronting the establishment (and its lethal operatives) head on. Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall turn in creditable performances, and some of the best moments come in their early verbal sparring sessions as they jostle for intellectual superiority.
However, Closed Circuit doesn’t have the superb style or script of the Worricker Trilogy, and nor does it have such a satisfying ending. The finale is narratively honest – but for dramatic purposes it was somewhat unsatisfying. Some special features – perhaps the thoughts of the writer / director on the motivation for making this film – would have been nice, too. Mind you, the title gets credit for being a delightful play on words… CCTV and being under continual observation are a part of the plot, but the real criminal activity goes on in the private sessions at the Old Bailey.
A thought-provoking film, and a reasonably enjoyable one. However, it does feel like a missed opportunity: it won’t satisfy an audience seeking non-stop thrills, but it’s not quite smart enough for the art-house crowd. Closed Circuit is likely to be one of those B-movies which is barely remembered in a couple of years from now.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Closed Circuit is available to rent or buy on DVD or Blu-ray