Closed Circuit

10 Sep

Spoilers, etc.

Political thrillers can be tricky. It has to be a little complicated, because you need plot twists and such, but it can’t get too complicated or the audience gets lost. And Closed Circuit didn’t have big action sequences to cover for its errors. Once it got going, I thought we were in for some pretty heavy-duty plot machinations. In the end it was a bit more simple than I expected, but I think that’s OK.

I don’t want to get too deep into the plot, not least because I saw it a couple weeks ago now and I don’t want to make any mistakes. It was well-paced, there were the requisite betrayals and reversals, but none of it was too unexpected or implausible (at least within the world of the movies). Nothing that’s going to make the movie all that memorable, but it was enjoyable.

The setting is London. I don’t know much about London, but I thought they didn’t take advantage as much as they could have. There were a few aerials of The Shard/Gherkin/etc., Eric Bana rowing in the Thames, and a sequence at Wembley. The way those were shot they could have been any river and stadium. A secret meeting during an England match is such a great idea. I was a little let down at the execution.

Thrillers like this live and die by the quality of the small nuanced moments that turn things. One of those in Closed Circuit deserves a mention. The scene when Claudia first goes to visit Emir. Emir knows that the MI5 guy is in the other room watching them on the security camera. So he turns to the camera and says something like he wants the interview to be over. Then between the time when MI5 guy leaves the monitor and enters the room, he grabs Claudia’s tape recorder and whispers something into it in Turkish. That was a really slick touch.

Running time is a tight 96 minutes. I would have liked more. I could have enjoyed another hour. The cast list is impressive. Ciarán Hinds, Jim Broadbent, and Julia Stiles are around, but none of them have anything to do. Mr. Broadbent and Ms. Stiles almost seemed surplus to requirements, as they’d say in London. More of the reporter, more of the Attorney General, more in general please. I wonder how much of that comes down to editing decisions. It’s hard to believe they’d put the reporter character in there and have her in two scenes and then die. I don’t think she advanced the story much. Same with the AG. At least I get what he was doing there. Although it was almost criminal how much better Mr. Broadbent is than that role. I think he might be my favorite actor (non-Michelle Williams category). Check out his imdb page. He’s 64 now. I don’t think most old-ish actors have anywhere near the range of Mr. Broadbent. Musicals, comedy, drama, he does so much more adventurous stuff than most actors. Anyway. Mr. Hinds had the biggest supporting role. I like him. He has such unexpected subtlety for someone so physically imposing. He looks like he should only play gangsters and, like, Russian generals. He does so much without speaking. Again, wish he’d had more here.

Rebecca Hall and Eric Bana were both in top form. I don’t get why Eric Bana isn’t a huge star. He’s handsome and he’s great in movies like this. Isn’t there some way to put him in a big popular movie? If he were twenty years older maybe he would have been playing Jack Ryan etc. The kinds of movies that Harrison Ford made. Those movies don’t really exist anymore. Hard to imagine The Fugitive being a blockbuster in 2013. Recommended recent Eric Bana movie: Hanna.

I was not expecting a performance like this from Rebecca Hall. A big departure from what I’ve seen from her in the past. Or maybe I haven’t been paying close enough attention. She was totally in control whenever she was the focus of a scene and more than held her own with Eric Bana, which is no small task when it comes to being a bad-ass who takes care of business.

Conclusion: I don’t know. This was a fine movie and everything, but there just wasn’t enough there to make it stand out.

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