Closed Circuit Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Ciaran Hinds. Directed by John Crowley. Rated R. Now playing.
Although it deals with the aftermath of a terrorist attack and the perils of an all-encompassing surveillance state, the tense thriller Closed Circuit isn’t really interested in making a political statement. Instead writer Steven Knight and director John Crowley use the atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion to tell a fairly timeless story of corruption and deceit, in the vein of classic 1970s thrillers like Three Days of the Condor or recent retro espionage story Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall play a pair of lawyers (and former lovers) in London assigned to defend a suspected terrorist, accused of masterminding a bombing in a crowded outdoor market. It soon becomes clear that greater forces are at work, pushing the case (and the lawyers) in a predetermined direction.
Knight and Crowley keep the suspense going without resorting to cheap fake-outs or absurd twists, and Knight’s script features a careful balance of character and plot development, providing just enough background about the main characters for them to feel like real people without distracting from the story. The actors generally fill in the rest (Hall is especially strong), although there are occasional missed opportunities in exploring the central relationship. The plot resolution is satisfying if a little too neat, and even if the movie doesn’t make any big statements, it tells a story well enough that it doesn’t need to.