Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Closed Circuit

Closed Circuit official site In light of the recent exposure of National Security Agency's (NSA) expansive and expensive surveillance programs, it's no longer just a suspicion that the U.S. government is secretly tracking on its citizens' every move. However, it's hardly a secret that the United Kingdom has more closed circuit (CC) cameras per capital than anywhere else in the world monitoring the public. But although director John Crowley's suspenseful thriller is called "Closed Circuit" (UK/USA 2013 | 96 min.), the film has little to do with surveillance cameras. Instead, it's an unsatisfying and predictable drama about government conspiracy through a secret trial on an alleged terrorist. It makes you scratch your head wondering how to make sense all of it—the government certainly is not to be trusted, but the film's protagonists are hardly convincing either.

The film sleekly opens with a wall of CC cameras in different angles monitoring a busy market in London. Despite the fact that most CC cameras don't have audio, the film directs your attention to various cameras via audio. Then a huge explosion blows everything up and kills 120 people. Somehow, the UK government swiftly zeros in on a suspect Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto), a Turkish immigrant who has a teenager son Emir (Hasancan Cifci). Farroukh is facing a secret prosecution that the evidence against him is highly classified, not even accessible by his defense lawyer Martin Rose (Eric Bana).

In order for Farroukh to be presented in a "closed trial," the British legal system appoints a "Special Advocate" (SA) Claudia (Rebecca Hall) who can access the secret evidence. Believe it or not, Claudia is Martin's ex-girlfriend! But that doesn't give her the permission to have any contact with Martin once she sees the evidence about Farroukh's alleged crime.

It's not very hard to guess that Claudia and Martin are going to run into a lot trouble with the British government after they dig deep into the case and expose their lives to grave danger.

Closed Circuit Official Site

After nicely setting up a suspenseful atmosphere, the film seems in trouble as much as the characters in the film. The storyline becomes sloppy and predictable, sometimes plain absurd such as an ridiculous chasing scene later in the film.

We have no doubt what the MI5 and the British government are capable of. For example, over-reaching surveillance, infiltrating organizations, destroying evidence, and even murder. But portraying every MI5 agent like an evil idiot is simply implausible. It's equally inconceivable to show that Martin and Claudia can outsmart the entire spy agency by running around the streets in London while keeping in touch secretly under the closed watch by MI5.

Based on how many secret ruthless MI5 agents surrounding Martin and Claudia in the film and what they can do, you wonder why the film brings Claudia into the trial at the first place. Why not just pick a secret MI5 agent to act like a SA since the trial is going to be in secret session anyway? If you are not familiar with the role of a Special Advocate in British legal system, you will feel even more perplexing about why the defendant has two defense lawyers who are not supposed to contact to each other, and don't even ask why the court picks up two ex-lovers for the task.

Nevertheless, all the paranoia suspicions about the British government are predictably proved to be true in the film, just as how we have suspected about the NSA's surveillance programs in the US proved to be true by leaded documents. But Edward Snowden is much more credible than the ex-couple: Martin and Claudia. Oh wait, by the end of the film, they appear to get back together as a couple. Does this count as a spoiler? Hardly. You have seen this coming from the beginning.

"Closed Circuit," a Focus Features release, opens on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 nationwide.

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