MRR Review: "Closed Circuit"

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Martin and Claudia are lawyers -- and ex-lovers -- who find themselves put at risk after they join the defense team for an international terrorist's trial.
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MRR Review: "Closed Circuit"

Rating: R (Language, violence)
Length: 96 minutes
Release Date: Aug. 28, 2013
Directed by: John Crowley
Genre: Crime/Drama/Mystery

Truth, lies, and international intrigue set the stage in "Closed Circuit," a 2013 thriller directed by John Crowley. The film's events begin with a major terrorist attack involving a strange explosion in the heart of a popular London market. The bombing suspect is immediately taken into custody and questioned, and two of Britain's top lawyers are tasked with his defense. What proves to be one of the most notorious criminal trials in Britain quickly turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse as the two attorneys, who happen to be former lovers, find themselves facing an unexpected enemy.

Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall star as Martin Rose and Claudia Simmons-Howe, the two defense attorneys tasked with the unenviable duty of defending one of the most notorious criminals in recent British history. Martin and Claudia must find a way to work together again in order to win a case that could make or break their professional reputations. The pair soon discover they have far more serious concerns than romantic tension and courtroom briefings. As they begin to comb through the evidence relevant to their client's trial, the facts point them in the direction of a cover-up of unprecedented scale. Martin and Claudia soon find themselves fighting not only for their client's life but also for theirs as they unwittingly uncover proof of a massive deception perpetrated by the British Secret Service.

"Closed Circuit" is a brilliant film that will have audiences thinking long after they leave the theater. The central plot stands out amid a sea of standard action thrillers thanks to a truly ingenious story line that is unlike anything else moviegoers have seen at the box office this summer. The film tackles the meaty subjects of governmental authority, conspiracy, and the justice system. What starts out as a fairly straightforward case quickly evolves into something far more sinister. The audience is given an informative inside look into the British criminal justice system and the way it compares and contrasts to the American legal system. Although it is set primarily in London, American characters give the movie international relevance; Julia Stiles has a notable supporting role as Joanna Reece, a bright and courageous American reporter who is determined to uncover the truth behind the British scandal.

"Closed Circuit" is a unique film in that it blends some of the best elements of several different movie genres. While the film is primarily a crime drama, it also contains plenty of mystery, action, and legal elements. Even though it is laden with drama and has a sobering premise, the film is not without its comedic moments. Martin and Claudia engage in their fair share of witty banter as they make the awkward transition from estranged former partners to coworkers. One particularly hilarious scene features them competing over the attention of a consultant, in which the ex-lovers proceed to speak to one another through a third party despite the fact they are sitting at the same table.

What really makes this movie stand out from other recent crime dramas is its unique atmosphere. The film takes place on the foggy streets of London, and the heavy atmosphere fits perfectly with the dark subject matter of the court case. Viewers will get a close look at life in modern Britain and can feel immersed in the culture throughout the proceedings. "Closed Circuit" takes a harsh look at governmental procedure, exposing the potential for corruption and secrecy in power, but it also shines a positive light on the effectiveness of the justice system and the press. The film provides a realistic but fair social commentary while delivering on plot and including enough relationship drama to keep audiences intrigued.

With a gritty story line filled with intelligent plot twists and politically relevant themes, "Closed Circuit" is perfectly poised to resonate with a modern audience. Touching on such controversial topics as surveillance, corruption, and institutional cover-ups, the film is sure to earn its place alongside such classics as "All the King's Men" and "Contagion." The solid performances from its relatively unknown cast make this film a refreshing change from all the recent star-studded thrillers at the box office. The cinematography does a remarkable job of creating a chilling atmosphere, capturing the gravity of the subject matter through scenes that feel organic and evenly paced, making "Closed Circuit" a truly a must-see for crime and mystery genre fans.

Rating: 3 out of 5