This review is reprinted from Wednesday's editions.
The here-and-now relevance of Closed Circuit cannot be disputed. A London-set thriller about a terrorist bombing and the subsequent secret trial of the suspected ringleader, this twisting affair addresses key issues of national security, individual rights, transparency and fairness in the judicial system, the Orwellian preponderance of video surveillance, and the sometimes sinister reach of intelligence organizations.
With a cool, steel-blue color palette and a crack cast of supporting actors (Jim Broadbent, Riz Ahmed, Ciarán Hinds, Kenneth Cranham), Closed Ciruit finds Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall teamed as defense lawyers, or barristers, who have known each other in the courtroom - and in the bedroom, as well.
He is Martin Rose, called upon at the last minute to represent Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto), accused of blowing up a London market and killing more than 100 people. Erdogan's previous legal representative has, ominously, just turned up dead.
Hall is Claudia Simmons-Howe, bright and hyphenated, and assigned as a special advocate with clearance to examine the government's classified evidence in the case. The trial is closed, so she is there to weigh the interests of the accused against those of MI5 and the police. The fact that she and Martin are ex-lovers should disqualify them from working together, so they agree to keep their past relationship to themselves.
Let the hugger and mugger begin.
Martin is pretty sure he's being followed. A newspaper reporter (Julia Stiles) is pretty sure there's a dangerous conspiracy afoot. The two meet in a park, in the rain, and cease conversation when a runner jogs by. (Stiles learned this business while making the Bourne movies.)
There are break-ins, and car accidents that do not appear accidental. There is a safe house where Erdogan's wife and son are being kept. The word safe should be used loosely.
Steven Knight, who wrote David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises, has crafted a credible script, although there is at least one gaping flaw (that Wembley Stadium conversation - really?!) And director John Crowley (Boy A, Is Anybody There?), trots his crew around London, working up a suitable amount of suspense. And paranoia.
In Closed Circuit, no one can be trusted. Although that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the ins and outs of the genre.
Closed Circuit *** (Out of four stars)
Directed by John Crowley. With Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Ciårán Hinds, Riz Ahmed, Julia Stiles, and Jim Broadbent. Distributed by Focus Features.
Running time: 1 hour, 36 mins.
Parent's guide: R (violence, profanity, adult themes)
Playing at: area theaters