A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
The opening sequence of "Closed Circuit," in which viewers bear witness to London's bustling Borough Market being decimated by a terrorist bomb at the cost of a couple hundred lives through a collection of overlapping security camera images, is so immediately compelling (even more so for the way that it presents such horrifying imagery in a way that doesn't feel particularly exploitative) that it sets a fairly high artistic bar pretty early on in the proceedings. The trouble is that not only does the film fail to live up to the enormous promise of those initial moments, it doesn't even try to do so for the rest of its running time. The result is a dreary and derivative thriller that is nowhere near as smart or controversial as it clearly believes itself to be.
The film is not about the investigation into the bombing; blame is quickly assigned to radicalized Turk Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto) and a trial is scheduled. The only hiccup is that some of the evidence being introduced by the government is so potentially explosive that not even the defendant himself is allowed to see it for himself. In such cases, defendants like Farroukh are allowed two lawyers—one who will defend him in public and a special advocate who defends him during the closed sessions and is allowed to look at the secret evidence, albeit under orders not to divulge said information to anyone, especially the other lawyer.
In Farroukh's case, his public defense will be conducted by Martin Rose (Eric Bana), who snags the gig after his predecessor/mentor commits suicide under suspicious circumstances. In closed court, he will be defended by the ambitious Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall). It turns out that Martin and Claudia once had a brief affair that ended badly, a piece of history that should have forced at least one of them to recuse themselves from the case on ethical grounds. However, neither one wants to give up such a big case and since no one apparently noticed their former romance, they proceed with preparing for their respective trials while effectively setting themselves up for blackmail or worse.
If you have seen a movie—any movie—then you can most likely quickly surmise that nothing about the case is what it seems to be and that just by doing their jobs, both Martin and Claudia are putting themselves in extreme danger at the hands of those who will do anything to prevent their bombshell secrets from being revealed. Rather than go into plot details, I will merely mention that Jim Broadbent plays the seemingly friendly government official, Ciaran Hinds is Martin's superior, Anne-Marie Duff plays a shadowy figure who will do anything to clean up the mess that she has made and Julia Stiles is a New York Times reporter who is smart enough to piece together a lot of the information but not smart enough to figure out what happens to reporters in movies like this who piece together a lot of the information but lack the security of above-the-title billing.