"“A frustratingly generic offering...”"
As far as cinema is concerned, you'd think that the recipe for success relies on the credentials on the writer, the director and the cast that have been acquired for the project. Therefore Closed Circuit should be on course to be a sure fire hit – yet despite the distinctive talent of all of those involved, director John Crowley's latest picture is a formulaic, run of the mill thriller. The most frustrating thing is, it seems perfectly content at being just that, in a film takes so few chances, lacking in ingenuity.
With a screenplay provided by Steven Knight – who also wrote Dirty Pretty Things – Closed Circuit delves into modern day London, where a terrorist attack kills over a hundred people casually strolling around at an outdoor market. While the nation are in a state of panic, the people soon have somebody to point the finger at - as Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto) is taken in as a leading suspect. Martin Rose (Eric Bana) is then brought in to defend the seemingly guilty party – though the case grows even more complex when his ex-partner Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) is hired to be the Special Advocate. While they both independently discover this case has more to it than meets the eye, they put their lives in jeopardy when doing the one thing they aren't legally allowed to do in such a position: communicate.
As with any film of this ilk, there is no denying how compelled you are as to how this story will conclude. With big conspiracy theory thrillers it's essential you remain captivated and this narrative takes the viewer down several ambiguous paths, with enough twists and turns to remain absorbing throughout. Crowley is building up towards an intense and dramatic climax, the big final scene that should bring clarity to everything that came before, and ensure this picture signs off in style. However this deviates away carelessly from any such ending, merely alluding to it instead. It makes for an extremely unfulfilling, underwhelming finale that leaves you scratching your head as the credits roll.
At times this feature is too emotionally manipulative, provoking a desired response from the viewer in a somewhat conspicuous fashion. When the music is delicate and fanciful you know it's romantic, and when it's pulsating and fast paced, you know we're supposed to feel suspense. You don't have the chance to make your own mind up, as this unsubtle approach does it all for you. It's also frustrating at how London is presented – by rights it should be the perfect setting for this electrifying, exhilarating story, and yet the story feels somewhat compromised in turn for some needless tourist shots of the capital's greatest landmarks. Big Ben, The London Eye and Battersea Power Station make up much of the background setting, for no reason other than to appeal to a broader market.
On the plus side, the performances are strong, with Bana and Hall leading this picture well. The latter could certainly do with working on his English accent however, slipping dangerously close to his Aussie roots on occasion. Thankfully the romantic subplot between the pair is underplayed, not demanding too much screen time, which is refreshing to see for a genre so often littered with needless, romantic elements. Also, and while not in the film a vast amount, Jim Broadbent – playing the Attorney General, is brilliantly sinister, stealing the show with each scene he appears in.
Easy to follow and certainly good fun – you can't complain too much with Closed Circuit. However given those involved you'd be forgiven for expecting something a little more daring and audacious, otherwise, as is the case, you can't help but question what it is they're bringing that is new to the table, with this frustratingly generic offering.