“Closed Circuit” is a political thriller that speaks to the very timely theme of government monitoring, however, the proceedings get bogged down in overwrought conspiracy. Eric Bana stars as Martin Rose, a defense attorney called in to take over the defense for a man accused of a heinous act of terrorism, after the first defense attorney dies, of apparent suicide. Thanks to the mandates of the British court system in the extreme circumstances of the case, the defendant is also afforded a second defense representative to represent his interests in a closed hearing during which evidence that could put national security at risk is to be discussed. That second defense representative is Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall), Martin’s former lover from an affair that brought about the end of his marriage. The two defense lawyers are not to have any contact, but as the situation is wont to do in a political thriller, the plot soon thickens. Martin and Claudia soon find themselves in a game of much higher stakes than they ever could have imagined, a game in which the end result is either their lives or a gross miscarriage of justice.
Bana and Hall make the most of an overblown script, but what could have been a brisk and taut thriller ultimately becomes bogged down in overwhelmingly over the top conspiracy. Jim Broadbent and Julia Stiles are criminally underutilized in the two most fascinating roles on screen. Still, they make the most of their limited turns, Broadbent shines as the layered, at times warm, at times downright intimidating, attorney general, while Stiles is all wit and cynicism as a New York Times assistant bureau chief who sees the political strings in play well ahead of everyone else.
The race to the conclusion of this 96-minute caper seems to take much longer. However much suspense was intended to be injected into the action on screen, as the twists become increasingly more transparent, the minutes seem to stretch out. There is a certain measure of entertainment watching the star-crossed attorneys come to the realizations that the average viewer reaches well beforehand, but outsmarting the brilliant heroes only holds up for so long. “Closed Circuit” is worth a watch on a lazy, rainy sunday when it makes its way to the various cable movie channels, but not much more.