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Martin and Claudia are lawyers -- and ex-lovers -- who find themselves put at risk after they join the defense team for an international terrorist's trial.
For more about Closed Circuit and the Closed Circuit Blu-ray release, see Closed Circuit Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on January 10, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Eric Bana, Julia Stiles, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Ciarán Hinds, Jim Broadbent
Director: John Crowley
» See full cast & crew
Closed Circuit Blu-ray Review
"They see your every move." Unfortunately, so do we.
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, January 10, 2014
Closed Circuit promises an all too timely political thriller rife with government corruption, mass-scale privacy invasion and paranoia; opening with a startlingly shot terrorist attack in a London marketplace captured on more than a dozen street cameras. What it delivers, though, is a dated, feebly scripted, conspiracy-laden legal procedural that begins to fall apart the moment it's subjected to the slightest scrutiny. Plot holes abound. Convention displaces invention. Each punch is telegraphed. And predictability is king. Most distressing is how quickly director John Crowley and screenwriter Steven Knight abandon the small, nuanced touches that nearly render their first act riveting, culminating in a dismally anticlimactic third act that makes everything that comes before it that much more implausible. The film's only saving grace? Crowley's smartly cast ensemble, with Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Ciarán Hinds and Jim Broadbent bringing far more to the table than Closed Circuit is equipped to handle.
Attorneys and -- brace for first groan -- ex-lovers Martin Rose (Bana) and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Hall) are hand-picked by the British Attorney General (Broadbent) to separately defend a high-profile detainee, Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto), charged with orchestrating and perpetrating a bombing in a crowded London market. However, because classified evidence is in play and national security is at stake, Rose and Simmons-Howe aren't allowed to contact one another or discuss the case in any way, nor are they permitted to know what the classified evidence is until the trial is underway. Complicating matters further, the two deny any prior relationship under oath; a lie tossed into the mix for no other reason than to give the as-yet-revealed conspirators ammunition when the two lawyers inevitably swap notes and start poking their noses where they shouldn't. Soon Rose and Simmons-Howe start to suspect they're being watched and that there's more to the bombing than the Attorney General and MI5 are letting on.
Terrorism, surveillance and deceit in a post-9/11 world. All the makings of a slowbrew nail-biter. But then comes the overly convoluted cover-up leading to a fix-all the Big Bads concoct only after the whole case spirals south. Without spoiling the outcome, the film's ending is especially infuriating in that it involves a seemingly drastic action that could have easily been carried out long before the case went to court; a move that would have buried the truth, eliminated the need for a trial and kept the entire fiasco out of the public eye. Instead, the perpetrators play everything ludicrously close to the chest, yet risk utter failure by even allowing Rose and Simmons-Howe to meddle with the case. And it doesn't stop there. Eyes will roll as icy assassins wax poetic about national security and the necessary evils of secrecy while trying to strangle innocent citizens, only to (of course) be thwarted and knocked unconscious with seconds to spare. By the time Bana and Hall are scrambling to figure out a way to walk away with their lives and with justice served, all manner of nonsense has transpired, including the belief -- and apparently the reality -- that if the pair promise to behave themselves, really really really promise, the professional killers hot on their trail will simply take them at their word and leave them alone. One minute certain death, the next a gift-wrapped get-out-of-jail-free card as unbelievable as the events that put them in danger in the first place.
Closed Circuit isn't predictable in the sense that you'll see the exact particulars of every twist and turn on the horizon, but rather in the sense that you see each bend in the road coming from half a mile away. Rose learns a troubling secret about someone close to him... which will be painfully obvious to anyone and everyone within minutes of the film's opening salvo. Simmons-Howe is being monitored... a point essentially spelled out in flashing neon letters the second she meets her government-appointed handlers. The Attorney General is up to something... which he all but announces with an indifferent scowl the moment he appears on screen. (You can almost always spot a bad movie's shadiest figure just by looking at 'em.) More to the point, if it weren't for the earnest performances, Closed Circuit might have made my list of the worst films of 2013. Fortunately, Crowley's actors rarely indulge in anything other than sincerity and frankness, choosing to approach each scene with the sort of instinctually suspenseful bewilderment befitting the protagonists of a high-grade thriller. If only the script, littered with clichés positioned as shocking revelations and double crosses, didn't betray their efforts. Somewhere, sinking deeper and deeper within the muck of the movie's over-plotted conspiracy, is a film worthy of its cast, and it's one I'd like to see. What we get instead may have made its bow in theaters but remains as direct-to-video as theatrical releases come.
Closed Circuit Blu-ray, Video Quality
Closed Circuit at least looks the part of the cold-blooded thriller it wants to be thanks to a bleak, occasionally beautiful 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. Though cinematographer Adriano Goldman's palette is largely drained of color, contrast is dialed in rather effectively, skintones are carefully saturated, black levels are muted but satisfying, and delineation is quite good (albeit a bit problematic when shadows press in or night falls). Detail doesn't disappoint either. Edges are clean and refined (minus a hint of ringing here and there), textures are natural and well-resolved, and there isn't any sign of significant artifacting, banding, aliasing or any other issue that might impede the film's photography. I did notice instances of moderate crush and uneven noise -- some of it a touch garish -- but none of it was cause for any major concern. All in all, Closed Circuit's transfer impresses.
Closed Circuit Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is decidedly decent, boasting a strong, albeit rather conventional experience built on more than a few moments of (aurally) immersive genre suspense. Dialogue is clear, intelligible and neatly grounded in the mix. While a bit on the front-heavy side, the soundscape is engaging and energetic... once, that is, the film dispenses with laying a foundation and resorts to chases, attempted murder, secret rendezvous and other tropes of the trade. LFE output is suitably weighty, lending fitting intensity to intense situations and sonic dread as required. The rear speakers, meanwhile, are subdued on the whole, yet lend Crowley's London a lived-in quality bustling with dull passersby and droning traffic oblivious to the unpleasantries occurring in the public's midst. All told, it isn't what I'd call a remarkable lossless track; just a solid mix that gets the job done without incident or distraction.
Closed Circuit Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The only extra to be found is "Secrets Behind the Camera: Closed Circuit" (HD, 3 minutes), a quickfire promo that doesn't offer much in the way of secrets, insight or behind-the-scenes footage or interviews. At least none of any substance.
Closed Circuit Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There will be those who aren't bothered or unsettled by Closed Circuit's shortcomings. To them, this will be a particularly harsh review of a film some will describe as "not that bad." But Bana and Hall are that good, and deserve a better return on their investment than a hackneyed genre script full of holes and inevitabilities. At first glance, Closed Circuit has a lot to offer. Upon closer inspection, though, its assets aren't nearly as appealing -- or airtight -- as they might initially seem, and the whole thing comes undone long before Crowley's endgame is sprung. Thankfully, Universal's AV presentation is much better, with a terrific video presentation and a solid lossless audio track. However, as is so often the case with box office duds that take a critical drubbing, Closed Circuit arrives with little in the way of extras. Rent it if you're curious. If nothing else, Bana, Hall, Hinds and Broadbent's performances will give you your RedBox-money's worth.
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Closed Circuit Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Closed Circuit Blu-ray - November 5, 2013
Universal Studios has officially announced that it will bring to Blu-ray director John Crowley's crime drama Closed Circuit (2013), starring Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Jim Broadbent, and Kate Lock. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across ...
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