Closed Circuit (John Crowley, 2013)

Borrowing heavily from what could be considered a conspiracy theorist’s handbook, Closed Circuit rarely diverges from any and all instances of rightfully paranoid, busybody protagonists stumbling upon a large-scale government cover-up. Following a London-based mass-casualty terrorist bombing, barrister Martin Rose (Eric Bana) and former mistress Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) are appointed defense advocates for the supposed criminal mastermind. When details surrounding Martin’s sudden promotion come to light however, the truth is slowly but surely unveiled as a vow of non-contact with Ms. Simmons-Howe must be broken before they both suffer an undesirable fate.

As with supernaturally predisposed teen romances, Closed Circuit‘s basic framework mimics that of a more mature Mad Libs puzzle, plugging specific names, places and motives into the blank spaces that contribute valuably to the core narrative’s substance. Familiarity aside, a production could overcome the glaring pratfalls to follow with a sense of engagement, the key players’ involvement remaining more than one-dimensional to avoid plain boredom. Unfortunately, Steven Johnson’s script opts for the opposite, Bana and Hall’s respective roles being reduced to that of pawns unwillingly playing their part in a game of British government-engineered chess.

While competently fleshed out, Closed Circuit ultimately lacks a pulse as the aforementioned protagonists’ relationship – one that at first threatens to break up the solidity of their defense case – is rarely tapped into. Needless to say, everything feels rather vanilla and emotionless as details flow freely from these characters’ mouths in droves, rarely faltering in accurately pinpointing exactly what’s going on and what should follow in the wake of their meddling. Ridding the proceedings of any sense of unpredictability, what the film is left with is a matter of exactly how many hurdles need to be jumped in its figurative race to the finish.

In all honesty, Closed Circuit‘s narrative intricacies are negligible in comparison to how unashamedly bland and familiar it is in its entirety. Wooden characters rendered important solely because of their job title and meaningless personal ties obviously fail to captivate, twists and turns existing only because of the film’s conspiracy thriller inspirations. Considering especially how easy it can be to overcome these glaring shortcomings with a bit of creative flair, Closed Circuit can’t even capitalize in this respect thanks to a general absence of technical prowess. It isn’t the worst thing I’ve seen, what with the performances driving a bulk of the proceedings all-too-necessarily, however staying away from something this uninspired barring its noticeable timeliness would be in your best interest.

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