Monday, September 2, 2013

Movie Review: "Closed Circuit"

Remember that line from Rockwell's 1980s hit with Michael Jackson, "I always feel like somebody's watching me"? At the start of Closed Circuit, you see camera after camera focused on what appears to be a regular day at London's Borough Market. Couples fight, friends gossip, parents reprimand their children, people walk through the crowds talking on their cell phones. A random panel truck pulls into an alley where it shouldn't be parked, but no one really suspects a problem. And then the truck explodes, killing 120 people.

A Turkish suspect, Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto), is arrested for masterminding the bombing, and awaits trial. Attorney Martin Rose (Eric Bana) is appointed to lead Erdogan's defense team after the first attorney's death. But because the government's case against Erdogan includes information so sensitive it could impact national security, Rose will not be able to hear this evidence; instead, a special advocate for the defense, Claudia Simmons-Howe (The Town's Rebecca Hall), will be the only one to hear the evidence and argue whether it should be used in the trial. There's one small problem: Martin and Claudia once had an affair, from which they both still bear emotional scars. And as you might imagine, the two attorneys swore there was no impediment to them working together.

The more Martin digs into the evidence surrounding his client the more he realizes the case against him is not what it seems, yet Erdogan has no plausible defense. Both he and Claudia grow ever more paranoid that they are being watched and manipulated, especially once they uncover a major aspect of the case. But where do you turn when it seems like everyone is watching you, everyone is trying to steer you away from doing what is right? How far will you take your principles, even if doing so may put you and those you care about in danger?

Closed Circuit is a highly intelligent thriller that seems scarily plausible given what we've learned about our governments over the years. While I always question thrillers in which the "bad guys" are always one step ahead, always know exactly what it is that is happening, the movie definitely kept me intrigued (if not completely buying all of it) from start to finish. With movies like these, you wonder just how the plot will tie itself up, and I wasn't disappointed here, even if I wasn't entirely surprised.

This movie works in large part because of the performances and the chemistry of Bana and Hall. Bana, while sexy as hell, has always struck me as a cerebral hero, which may be one reason his performance in Hulk didn't work as well, but that thoughtful passion and simmering rage works here. And I don't know why Rebecca Hall isn't a bigger star; she's proved her mettle using both her native British accent and gone American in movies such as Vicky Cristina Barcelona, plus she's gorgeous to boot. I loved the way these two played off of each other, and you could feel the emotional history between them.

I've been fairly vague in my plot synopsis because I don't want to give anything away. But suffice it to say Closed Circuit (which I keep referring to as Short Circuit, which is a wholly different film) is a complex, compelling, and well-acted movie that may stretch your plausibility meter a bit, but it's still worth a watch.

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