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Monday, November 4, 2013

Closed Circuit

Late, late, late, late, late....

Also at Channel 24

What it's about

After a terrorist attack in central London, two ex-lovers are reunited as part of the defense team for those suspected of perpetrating the attacks, but only one is privilege to evidence that is deemed a threat to national security.

What we thought

Closed Circuit is the sort of film that really has no excuse to be as rote and uninspired as it turned out to be. Putting aside the solid creative team both behind and if front of the cameras that includes one of the more interesting British directors of recent years; an erratic, but often brilliant British screenwriter and a dependably good to great cast, the story it's telling overflows with potential.

Think about it, we have the always, if you pardon the expression, explosive topic of terrorism vs. national security at the centre, but that's only the beginning. We also have a peak into a very unusual and morally and ethically complex legal case in a legal system that we don't actually see that much of in mainstream cinema. Plus, added to all that we have the two characters caught in the middle of it, whose previous affair is contrasted against the secrecy and distrust of the conspiracies all around them. One of these things should be enough for a top-notch thriller, but all of them? It should be unstoppable.

Sadly, rather than being the greatest romantic/ legal thriller/ drama of the decade, we have one of the year's dourest and, excepting for a short ten minute chase sequence at the end of the film, relentlessly dull films. It's the sort of film that is packed to the gills with plot, with shady characters, with broken romances and with the still touchy subject of terrorism, yet I spent the vast majority it admiring the scenery.

To be fair, the cinematography is pretty wonderful as we get a really rather lovely virtual tour of London and its surrounding areas with a detail and vividness that we somehow don't see that often in British films – especially of the gritty, “kitchen sink” variety that we so often see on these shores. But considering the type of film that Closed Circuit is clearly trying to be, what does it tell you that the backdrop of the film is simply a hundred times more interesting than what is going on in front of it.

The biggest problem with the film by far, more so even than a surprisingly wooden performance from the usually rather good Eric Bana, is that it is entirely lacking in any real, hot-blooded humanity. It plays out like a rather ordinary, if quite technical, legal procedural when it should come across as a mix of heart-pounding thrills and spills and broken hearted romanticism. I simply didn't care about a single person in the film (even when these people were played by the always lovely Rebecca Hall and the perennially awesome Jim Broadbent, here trying their best but without much with which to work) or anything that happens to them.

This is a film that starts with a tragic, all too lifelike terrorist attack in a crowded market place and ends with the systematic destruction of justice and hope by an ultimately impressive bureaucratic process and all of it lands with a disinterested, emotionally detached thud. Instead of being on the edge of my seat, it was all I could do to keep awake.

I generally hate remakes, but this is one time that I would love to see a film remade, even with exactly the same cast in front of the cameras. A story with this much potential desperately needs to be done justice to by a film that can adequately reflect both its emotional core and its complex, intellectual thrust. Instead we get this. What a pity.

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