Closed Circuit

In a modern-day London of ubiquitous surveillance and perpetual malfeasance (and there we have the double-meaning of the movie’s title), Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall are lawyers, and former lovers, defending a suspected terrorist. That’s challenging enough, but things get harder when they uncover a deadly conspiracy. Being a collaboration between Eastern Promises screenwriter Steven Knight and Boy A director John Crowley, Closed Circuit suggests more power and grit than it ultimately delivers. Being a legal procedural, it sometimes gets a bit talky. And being British, it sometimes gets away with that. But not always. To be sufficiently thrilling or suspenseful, a legal suspense thriller needs its star to have a special kind of charisma. Bana’s is a different kind (and not just because he’s actually Australian). Hall helps, but the movie doesn’t give her quite enough to chew on. Similar stinginess extends to stock-character parts for Ciarán Hinds and Julia Stiles, whereas things get livelier with Riz Ahmed, as a subtly oily intelligence officer, and Jim Broadbent, as one of those mannerly monsters, a familiar English type. Even allowing that the shortcomings of tactfulness are partly what it’s about, the film’s own tactfulness feels vaguely unsatisfying. But its topic sure is topical, and being about surveillance, highly watchable.