The British crime thriller “Closed Circuit” finally had its wide release on Aug. 28. The Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall-starring flick tells the story of two lawyers with a romantic history who have to break the rules to defend a man suspected of setting off a bomb in London — but who actually could be the victim of a British Secret Service cover up.
The reviews are in, and critics are lukewarm on the late summer release: “Closed Circuit” earned a 43 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. “The basic message seems to be not to trust anyone in the highest intelligence circles, but after dozens of spy thrillers, that isn’t exactly startling news. Many of the plot twists are predictable, and even when they aren’t, they are too rarefied to generate bare-knuckle tension. For example, there’s an elaborate set-up for a meeting at a crowded soccer stadium but no real payoff in terms of life-and-death action,” Stephen Farber says at The Hollywood Reporter.
“Closed Circuit’s” pedigree seems to be worth more than its finished product. Directed by “Boy A’s” John Crowley and written by “Dirty Pretty Things'” Steven Knight, many reviewers didn’t feel that this film was better than the sum of its parts. Still, its two leads are said to be one of the best parts of the film. Michael Phillips at the Chicago Tribune writes, “Directed unfussily and well by John Crowley, ‘Closed Circuit’ has enough on the ball in terms of atmosphere and crafty performances to take your mind off the gaps in logic.”
One of the biggest faults with “Closed Circuit” seems to be that its subject isn’t especially shocking when there are much more interesting real-world conspiracy stories taking place. “It’s a story that means to shock us with a tale of wrongdoings and cover-ups at the highest levels, but in this post-Edward Snowden/Chelsea Manning era, does any government-sanctioned chicanery come as a real surprise anymore?” TheWrap‘s Alonso Duralde writes. “If the movie had bothered to craft some memorable characters or dialogue or situations, this lack of urgency might not feel so pronounced.”
However, USA Today’s Claudia Puig still thinks “Closed Circuit” is a better option for the late summer than other films out there. “‘Closed Circuit’ is not only an intelligent, well-told and deftly acted story, it provides refreshing counter-programming in a season filled with noisy, uninspired sequels and mindless action movies,” she writes.
Bottom line: “Closed Circuit” might not be the smartest or most deftly told story of its kind, but it’s a good alternative for those out there dealing with summer blockbuster exhaustion.