Closed Circuit: just ok

Posted: December 19, 2013 by jennroig in English, Reviews
Tags: , ,
Closed Circuit, John Crowley

Closed Circuit, John Crowley

Closed Circuit (2013) is the most recent film by Irish director John Crowley which just caught my eye.

Note: Be aware of spoilers. I will try to hold back on the plot and ending but I may give up something along the way.

At first sight, it’s another movie using the good old conflict of a powerful government agency going ballistic trying to cover up a huge mistake, while two characters  try to fight back armed just with willpower and a sense of justice and perhaps compassion. So far, nothing new under the sun. The powerful organization is the British Mi5. He (Eric Bana) is the protagonist, a lawyer. She (Rebecca Hall) is also a lawyer, and will act as his weak link (typical), but also his inspiration (even more typical) because of a previous romantic affair they both had.

No surprise regarding the characters’ traits. He’s nothing like a stand-up guy, he’s divorced with a son because he slept around, on top of that, it’s suggested that eventually he may have suffered some sort of breakdown or episode of instability. She seems a better person and professional, but at a crucial moment her integrity breaks and she lies, due to ambition, pride or stubborness. No fairy tale heroes, but we have seen that before and we have become used to even admire and indentified with flawed people, because real people tend to be just that. Nothing new so far.

Finally, the resolution isn’t shocking. It’s the logical consequence of the story that has been told. And as for the character’s arc, the way he’s supposed to change, nothing revolutionary there either. So, why could I possibly bother to write about Closed Circuit.

Because it accomplishes its mission. It’s thrilling and entertained. It also reminds you about a few ideas and viewpoints worthy to consider regarding our relationship with powers, and government by extension, but that’s not even the key reason.

I think the strength of the film, and Crowley’s skill for that matter, it’s the atmosphere that manage to create. It’s this well crafted sense of danger that starts growing from the moment the journalist (Julia Stiles) suggest him that the previous barrister may have not die so naturally after all. It’s there when Hall visits the suspected terrorist in prison, and when she realizes that the security guy watching her may not be a source of protection after all. It’s there when she interviews the defendant’s son, and when he meets the journalist in the park. The way the information is handle through the film keeps you clinged, maybe till the moment when Bana tells Devlin (Ciarán Hinds) that can wait for them at a given location in the city, where you know he won’t show up, and the suspense fades because you anticipate the overall outcome, you may just not be sure whether they will survive or not.

There is chemistry among the couple, which also helps. There’s no need for you to watch a revealing bed scene to believe their bond is strong and they are very attracted to each other, which is deeply appreciated in these times. I wouldn’t buy Bana and Hall in real life, but they manage to work it out in the movie.

So it is a fine movie. I would say it’s the kind of film that makes you feel satisfied when the end credits are rolling, even though you will be able to find its plot holes and tricks afterwards.


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