‘Closed Circuit’ is more airport novel than topical thriller

Eric Bana looks vaguely suspicious in the very English thriller "Closed Circuit." Credit: Jay Maidment, Focus Features
Eric Bana looks vaguely suspicious in the very English thriller “Closed Circuit.”
Credit: Jay Maidment, Focus Features

‘Closed Circuit’
Director: John Crowley
Stars: Rebecca Hall, Eric Bana
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

The American films of the 1970s were informed by justified paranoia, coming from a time when various fits of government malfeasance — Watergate, the Vietnam War — were out in the open. Today’s institutional underhandedness tends to be a bit more covert, and a smart thriller about corrupt agencies murdering journalists and snooping bureaucrats would address that. “Closed Circuit” is not that movie. It’s a holdover from this bygone era. Here, the bodies that rule us (or England, where it takes place) just kill everybody in their way, and sloppily at that. It’s an airport novel in a “topical” outrage machine’s clothes.

Rebecca Hall and Erica Bana are the two main overqualified actors contributing to the air of importance. (Jim Broadbent and Ciaran Hinds fill out supporting roles.) A 7/7-style act of terrorism has occurred, and suspected of ties to the bombing is a Turkish emigre (Denis Moschitto). But the case is wishy-washy, and the lawyers played by Hall and Bana see right through it. Their investigations reveal a massive, increasingly wobbly conspiracy that seems to go right to the top, and brings on scary supporting characters and conveniently incompetent assassins.

“Closed Circuit” touches on — and really only touches on — big issues, among them how many civil liberties we’re willing to surrender for the illusion of safety, government accountability, and racism as England becomes increasingly multicultural. (That doesn’t stop it from employing a shady Arab heavy, played by Riz Ahmed.) It takes on the appearance of intelligence, from the casting to the slow burn plotting to the calm and sleek direction of John Crowley (“Boy A”), which adopts a reticence that, even in the face of escalating horror, is purely and sometimes amusingly English. (When he realizes they’re being toyed with, it’s a touch funny that Bana says, “We’re being managed.”)

But the film is never compelling enough to cover up the cliched rot at the center. (A chilling opening bombing, told entirely through security footage, is the noted exception.) This is a film where our two leads just happen to be old flames who may or may not get back together at the end. And it’s a film where a minor character’s death makes front page news. The silliness piles up, each one nicking away at the film’s dwindling credibility. It doesn’t even have the courage of its paranoid convictions, turning suddenly and undeservingly reassuring when it should go whole hog bleak-o-rama. It’s a liability that a film like this winds up having hope.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

News

Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Local

African couple claiming misidentification in robbery case to…

At a bail hearing today for Vickson and Lorfu Korlewala, charged in the robbery of an 80-year-old woman, bail was reduced from $1 million total to $500,000.

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

NHL

Rangers draw first blood against Flyers in Game…

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win.

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.