John Crowley’s topical yet workmanlike thriller pits imperiled barristers against British counter-terrorists who kill to keep secret operational errors that are WikiLeaks worthy; collateral damage includes a deputy bureau chief of the New York Times. Six months after a truck bomb detonates in a market, killing 120 Londoners, the initial attorney for imprisoned suspect Farroukh (Denis Moschitto) allegedly commits suicide, which isn’t even the first staged death screenwriter Steven Knight inserts into “Closed Circuit.” Because of potentially damaging facts in the case, the new defense duo cannot access the same evidence entered by prosecutors. Nice as a plot device, this protocol complicates the discovery process and defense strategy of the court-appointed Claudia (Rebecca Hall) and Martin (Eric Bana), former lovers who conveniently lie to their overseers about their past entanglement. Crowley effectively marshals the look and pace of the latter-day paranoid thriller. (The usual political message is there too.) As in the recent “Paranoia,” people in power will play lesser mortals to their own ignoble ends. National security and corporate espionage are kindred evils necessary for suspense. Both films use banks of closed-circuit video screens in a mise-en-scène of pervasive, invasive surveillance. The device is up-to-the-minute, but functions more as decor than any kind of deconstruction of thriller entertainment on the larger screen. With Ciårán Hinds, Riz Ahmed, Jim Broadbent, Anne-Marie Duff, Kenneth Cranham, Julia Stiles. 98m. (Bill Stamets)
“Closed Circuit” is now playing.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.