Is it possible to distinguish between good and evil when everyone involved seemed to have a hidden agenda? What happens when the truth is exposed? What will the consequences be for everyone? That’s part of the premise behind the DVD release of “Closed Circuit,” which followed two people searching for answers that could get them both killed. The results were slightly familiar, but it was told in a way that left viewers interested and wanting even more than what was told.
“Closed Circuit” followed two lawyers who became involved in the most complicated case of their entire careers. Martin Rose (Eric Bana) was recruited to take over a case for a recently deceased colleague and was given little time to catch up. The case was a planned terrorist attack in a London marketplace that left many dead and everyone looking for someone to blame. Enter Rose’s client who was the only surviving member left of the terrorist cell. He claimed that he was innocent, but some recently discovered evidence indicated that there was more to the story. Due to the high profile nature of the crime, there were two trials: a public one and a closed one. Rose handled the public trial, while Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) handled the closed trial that examined some extremely classified documents that might be considered as evidence in Rose’s trial. To make sure that both trials weren’t compromised, Rose and Claudia weren’t supposed to interact with one another. Unfortunately, they shared a very complicated past that they failed to disclose to the judge early on. One of them also broke the no contact rule when an American journalist (Julia Stiles) shed some light on their client’s background that ended up getting her killed. After some stern warnings from the Attorney General (Jim Broadbent), Rose and Claudia realized that they had to be careful who they trusted. Will they be able to expose the truth before they were added to the body count?
In terms of questions, “Closed Circuit” posed a few big ones, but the biggest concerned whether it was appropriate to cross the line under the guise of defending your country, or find more appropriate channels of doing so. The movie showcased some reasonable people who turned into villains because they put the fate of their country into someone’s less than reliable hands and got burned in the process. Okay, a few of the movie’s villains were borderline stereotypical as they sneered their way into getting what they want no matter who got hurt in the process. The only memorable villains were Broadbent’s rather disturbing Prime Minister and Ciaran Hinds’ mysterious lawyer. Broadbent managed to project the right level of quiet malice that made him unnerving to watch, even when he appeared to be simply giving Bana’s Rose sound advice. Hinds’ character, on the other hand, didn’t get much of a chance to shine. His character’s true colors were just revealed right before he simply disappeared from the story without any fanfare. Overall, the movie told a very intriguing story, but the 90 minute running time forced some of the plots to be unreasonably rushed. Characters often came and went just as quickly, such as Stiles’ intrepid reporter who could’ve benefited from a little more screen time. The movie also seemed to spend a little too much time devoted to the background between Rose and Claudia rather than focusing on the story at hand. It would’ve been better to make the main characters strangers and use the case to develop the connection between them to avoid the unnecessary melodrama that their romantic subplot entailed. In the end, the movie told an interesting story that seemed terrifying and could potentially happened if people weren’t too careful in following the rules.
As for breakout performances, Bana and Hall led the pack because the story revolved mostly around their characters and due to their mostly separate storylines. The movie only faltered when their storylines haphazardly merged after they carelessly break the rules without coming up with a credible plan. Bana brought credibility to the movie as the flawed but honorable lawyer who wanted to redeem professionally when he couldn't do so personally. Sure, the material could've been better at focusing on his professional life rather than his overly messy divorce and his disappointment in breaking up his family. Bana's strongest scene when his character decided to reflect on his past mistakes and how he was trying to take a different approach with his work and personal lives to see if his luck changes. Hall had the more challenging task of playing Bana's girl friday without sharing too many scenes together with him, until the latter half of the film. She excelled when she was in her own separate storyline, but her character started to falter once the two stories merged together. It also didn't help very much that Bana and Stiles appeared to have more chemistry than Hall did with Bana. The movie might've been better served if Hall and Stiles switched roles for a much stronger result on-screen. Ultimately, the movie was memorable because the cast made a valiant effort to make a somewhat flawed story unforgettable for a little while at least.
Verdict: The movie offered the promise of a shocking thriller, but it's fast paced storytelling left little time for any real plot and character development.
DVD Score: 2 out of 5 stars
Movie Rating: R
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)