An eye-opening expose on the realities of terror and ‘protection’.
In Closed Circuit the events of the London bombing from a number of years ago are brought to light to show us how the messiness of the spy world can bring harm to ordinary citizens. The film opens very much in the theme of this story where footage from a collection of security cameras is showing various people moving about in an outdoor market. Then a strange truck backs into place ignoring the complaints of those nearby. It then blows up. The film then jumps to six months later where the court case of the accused, Farroukh Erdogan is about to take place. The main character, played by Eric Bana, is the attorney in charge of defending Erdogan in open court. He is assisted by a former fling of his who is assigned to handle closed-session arguments dealing with sensitive matters of national security which are pertinent to the case. It is quickly pointed out in the story that such a relationship is never supposed to exist between two people working in this capacity. It is revealed later on in the movie that this was part of the conspiracy put on by the British Intelligence Agency, MI-5, who plays an increasingly disturbing role in all of the events in the film. Indeed, it is the involvement of MI-5, in the real events of this tragedy that gives both the film and the actual event its disturbing quality.
First off, each of the performances of this stellar cast is as intricate and compelling as you would expect from such top-notch professionals. Secondly, the very real-world ambiguous ending hammers home the ‘big-brother-conspiracy’ theme that audiences gravitate towards and reminds everyone of how little control they really have over the world around them. But, what makes this film so much more compelling than most spy films is the reality of it. None of the Hollywood, comic-book elements such as car chases, ultra high-tech gizmos, or shady characters meeting in secret rooms ever occurs in this film. It is all grounded in very real and very relatable situations which is really how such organizations would work. It is almost an “oh-of-course” moment to observe how the MI-5 agents operate in this film, because it makes immediate sense that this is the sort of work it would take to keep such operations unnoticed by the public. The only knock I would give to the film is they could have ramped up the closed-circuit camera perspective throughout the story. By showing each scene from a security camera it would have further honed in on the public’s worst fears of the ability of our governments to spy on us at all times. It is that very real tension and discomfort that makes this film work. Though each scene in this film very accurately shows us how real spy surveillance is done, it is the existence of the cameras and not knowing the motives of those watching them that puts people on edge. As a final note of praise, I thought the portrayal of the active MI-5 agent in this film having a cover-job working in traffic management was brilliant. Indeed, as this film is a recreation of actual events, it is very natural choice for spies to choose a vocation that would allow them access to the best network of cameras in any city in the world.
In closing, this great chess-game of a spy film is a must watch for any fan of this genre as well as anyone who wants real evidence of the capabilities of our governments to control what we see and hear. This movie will open your eyes and refresh your memories about a not-too-distant tragedy of our recent past that warrants reexamination.