A suicide bombing reduces a bustling London market to smoldering ash, taking the lives of 120 people. When the police arrest the one surviving member of the terrorist cell responsible, the government heralds it as a triumph of justice. But as the trial begins, justice becomes a tricky subject.
The government seeks a closed court session in the interest of national security. The people want to see the trial and justice in open court. The government comes to a compromise: The suspect will be represented by two barristers, a special advocate to evaluate the secret evidence and a second for open-court trial.
The complex process hinges on one unbreakable rule: The two barristers must never meet or speak with each other. Seems simple enough, but this is a movie.
Open-court barrister Martin Rose (Eric Bana: Deadfall) and special advocate Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall: Iron Man 3) were lovers. When Martin notices oddities, he brings his worries to Claudia.
He fears that his client is not a terrorist but an MI-5 agent victimized by an operation gone wrong. It shouldn’t be hard to prove, with closed circuit cameras everywhere in London.
Soon after he voices this belief, Martin finds the same people popping up wherever he goes. Are they following him or do they just live in the neighborhood? Looking closer at the series of tragic accidents — suicides and car crashes — that led him to the case, he fears he may be in for more than he bargained. The closed circuit cameras become symbolic of the constant observation Martin feels.
Can Martin survive his investigation? Can he save Claudia? Can someone please make a better conspiracy movie?
Closed Circuit isn’t a bad movie. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a parsley garnish: Pretty, predictable, harmless and of no importance.
But as filmmaking goes, forgettable movies are a bigger sin than bad movies, which give you something to complain about over dinner.
There’s a logic trap common to conspiracy movies, and Closed Circuit falls right in. The conspirators are supremely clever, all-knowing, all-seeing creeps — until they’re not. It’s amazing that two barristers with presumably no training in evasion, physical combat and espionage are able to confound highly trained murderous conspirators. Martin and Claudia’s easy success doesn’t make the barristers look smart; it makes everyone who died in the conspiracy look stupid. If only the others had thought to leave via a backdoor!
Closed Circuit captures the paranoia that has accompanied the information age; you’ll spot a camera on a wall in almost every scene. But Closed Circuit doesn’t distinguish itself from the host of conspiracy movies that came before it, and the price of movie tickets makes that reason to skip it.