Closed Circuit: An Age-of-Terror Thriller for Grown-Ups
Yes, this is another movie that opens with a terrorist attack, but don't let that scare you off. Closed Circuit frames its attack—a bombing of a popular London market—in a series of split-screen shots ostensibly taken from closed-circuit cameras. It's not too graphic, and it's not the kickoff to your standard early-21st-century Islamophobic adventure film. Instead, Closed Circuit is a legal thriller/espionage flick that aspires to a talky exploration of abuse of government powers.
Eric Bana plays Martin Rose, a defense attorney assigned to argue for the alleged terrorist behind the bombing. But because the case involves top-secret information, another lawyer has been assigned to argue the secret part of the case before a secret court. And that lawyer, Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall), recently had an affair with Rose that broke up his marriage, which makes things personally tricky. When the lawyers dig up secrets that MI6 wants to keep buried, trouble (in the form of a few chase scenes) rears its ugly head. The resulting internecine struggles threaten both the lives of our heroes and the future of free Great Britain. Jim Broadbent shows up every so often to steal whole chunks of the movie as a genial-but-sinister attorney general.
Some of the film's allure comes from watching Bana—a good actor saddled recently with terrible roles—and Hall shift from adversaries to allies in a subtle duet of a performance, but the ideas the film presents are the real stars. Closed Circuit isn't as intricate and involved as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but it's not nearly as dumb as most Age of Terror thrillers, either. It's a perfectly adult, and sort of square, night out at the movies that has the good sense to raise all the right questions about the security state, while not condescending to pretend that the answers to those questions are easy.