Closed Circuit review: cheating in the War on Terror

Get new reviews in your email in-box or in an app by becoming a paid Substack subscriber or Patreon patron.

Closed Circuit yellow light Eric Bana

Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall are as engaging as ever, and the film raises intriguing issues concerning the “War on Terror”; pity the plot descends into the ridiculous.
I’m “biast” (pro): like the cast

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

A truck bomb in busy Borough Market kills hundreds of people and devastates the surrounding area. It’s London’s 9/11, and with all but one of the alleged co-conspirators who supposedly plotted the attack killed while being arrested — funny how that happens — the heat is on to ensure that the trial of the sole bad guy left, Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto), gives a good show to a grieving city and nation. “Show trial” would almost be the right term for it, except that it’s all happening in secret, away from cameras and — to make you gag on the injustice — secret evidence that’s kept even from Erdogan’s defense. Rage and paranoia at the near police state the “free West” has become infuses Closed Circuit — the title refers not only to the cameras that cover London’s streets but also the panopticon eye of security and intelligence agencies that spy on us “for our own good” — as director John Crowley (Boy A) creates a creepy menace around kinda-sorta working together defense attorneys Martin Rose (Eric Bana: Hanna) and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall: Iron Man 3). They’re brought in separately to handle different bits of red-hot evidence, and they’re not supposed to be in cahoots — the “secret evidence” must stay in its individual secret boxes — except they used to be lovers and they just can’t help but compare notes. Oh, and they know they’re being “managed,” they’re just not sure why at first. Bana and Hall are as engaging as ever here, and the plot is pretty gripping at first, but then screenwriter Steven Knight (Hummingbird) starts giving over to rote thriller idiocies — like allowing too many stupid mistakes by the supposedly near-omniscient MI-5/MI-6 — and cheats: in one scene, Rose grills a witness by asking him important questions that we don’t get to hear, lest we figure it all out too soon. Secret plot points! Still, the film raises intriguing issues revolving around the “War on Terror” that need to be talked about. I wish this film did a better job with them.

share and enjoy
If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.
If you haven’t commented here before, your first comment will be held for MaryAnn’s approval. This is an anti-spam, anti-troll measure. If you’re not a spammer or a troll, your comment will be approved, and all your future comments will post immediately.
notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
view all comments
Karl Morton IV
Karl Morton IV
Sun, Oct 27, 2013 5:36am

We got “Closed Circuit” a couple months ago and it does all devolve into running about, but the stuff with the secret defense and ‘special advocate’ really did my head in. Seems to be a real thing, or do you know different? Seems utterly BONKERS!

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Karl Morton IV
Sun, Oct 27, 2013 6:10pm

I’m not sure about the legal authenticity of the movie, but it doesn’t seem to be speculative in nature, sad to say.

Tue, Oct 29, 2013 9:27am

It seems to me that what the current situation with secret trials in the UK and USA needs is outrage, not a film about pretty people running around saving the day. But I am old and cynical.