Martin Rose (Eric Bana) and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) find themselves on the defence team of a man accused of a destructive act of terrorism. Their past threatens their ability to work together, but it soon becomes clear that their work is threatening their loyalty, and their lives.
Perhaps the story for Closed Circuit seemed like a good idea on paper, but there is actually something relentlessly dull about this procedural courtroom drama. There is precious little chemistry between the leads, Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall, and anything interesting that happened between the characters is set outside the realm of the film, so we never see it on screen. Instead, we are treated to Hall and Bana – who have both proven they are a lot better than this – bickering and then being drawn together by fate. Of course.
Hall is little other than pouty and rather bitchy here, and Bana keeps telling everyone that he is an ass, but is never anything but beige. We get hints of what happened between them, but never enough to keep up interested or for us to root for the characters. Jim Broadbent plays the Attorney General, and is threatening and menacing, but without any clear motivation. Ciaran Hinds is wasted in his role as Devlin, and Riz Ahmed’s character lines as so clearly drawn that it’s easy to see what’s going to happen within minutes of him turning up.
In theory, courtroom dramas are fine, and can be great in practice, if they are done well. Closed Circuit is not one of those films. Steven Knight’s screenplay is obviously trying to pick up a thread from recent tragic events in London, but ultimately feels like it is exploiting said tragedy, rather than honouring or integrating it in any way. Characters are one dimensional and thin, and many motivations are never spelled out.
Director John Crowley has made some great films in the past, including Is Anybody There? And Intermission, but any subtlety, nuance or comedy that was created in his past work, is notably missing here. Crowley directs with a heavy hand, obviously trying to create suspense, but instead the film feels ham fisted and clunky.
In all, Closed Circuit is a perfectly forgettable courtroom drama that ticks all the boxes, but has absolutely no flair or suspense. A disappointing effort from some great actors and a director who has done great things in the past.