Wednesday, 2 April 2014
Perhaps no country symbolises the decadence of democratic values in the Western democracies better than the UK. This is a country where one's every move is monitored by CCTV and where opt out filters were introduced to "protect the children" (and then quickly subverted to block other stuff). A country that holds travelling journalists and treats them like terrorists. Indeed, it is no surprise the UK was chosen as the setting for Closed Circuit, a film that is all about this culture and what it is doing to our state.
A terrorist bombing hits a bustling street market at the centre of London, causing many casualties. The security forces set their sights on a foreigner alleged to have provided the bombers with their mobile phones and other forms of support. No, I do not think the character's resemblance to Australia's Mohamed Haneef is coincidental. A trial is set with a caveat: because the evidence against our terrorist will reveal top secret information, the accused and his defence are not allowed to listen to them; instead a special, privileged agent will be appointed. This agent will have access to the material and will be able to communicate whether the evidence is of substance or not. No, I do not think the resemblance to Israel's Prisoner X saga and the trial that the public was not allowed to hear of is coincidental. In the background lies the UK's Attorney General, who just like Australia's Brandis and his approval of Aussie intelligence forces rampaging through the office of a lawyer representing East Timor, does everything in his powers to support British security forces.
This is the point where our heroes for the duration of the movie are introduced. As the defence lawyer we have Martin (my long time avatar Eric Bana), who takes the helms following the weird suicide of the previous defence lawyer. And as the special liaison we have Claudia (Rebecca Hall). The catch? The two are ex lovers, which sort of contradicts the whole idea of the two not having any contact whatsoever in order for them to fulfil their court appointed duties. If that's not enough tension to start with, Martin quickly reveals some revelations that shed a brand new light about the whole story behind our alleged terrorist. Martin, however, should be careful; his every move is followed by the good services of the United Monitored Kingdom. He and Claudia should also be careful of potentially losing their professional credentials if they dig too far into these revelations.
There can be no doubt as to the relevancy of this movie. Almost everything it depicts took place sometime, somewhere, in a Western democracy, recently. Ongoing revelations from Edward Snowden only add fuel to the fire behind the claim that in the name of security, the powers that be that we have appointed to protect our democracy, our freedom and our way of life are doing the exact opposite and are managing to get away with it.
Alas, as much as I like Eric Bana, I do not consider Closed Circuit a good movie. As important as its subject matter is, there is nothing there we haven't seen before in third grade legal dramas. With Closed Circuit's message being clear from the start, it doesn't take much to guess where the film will take us down, either. I found the ending, in particular, to ruin much of the good job Closed Circuit does manage: by trying to be an all encompassing ending it only manages total hollowness.
Overall: I couldn't avoid feeling that all the good intentions missed their mark. 2.5 out of 5 crabs for a film that could and should have been so much better.
Anecdote: Closed Circuit offers a reunion between Eric Bana and fellow Munich Israeli secret agent, Ciarán Hinds.