“Closed Circuit”
The recent revelations about government snooping in the communications of private citizens serve as a timely trigger for a movie like “Closed Circuit,” which is, at heart, a cautionary tale. Beware those who would take away your privacy in the name of protecting your freedom. The neo-Fascists are actually more of an insidious threat than the old-style terrorists. And, they have better access.
Martin Rose (Eric Bana) is a London barrister whose personal life is kind of a mess. He’s going through a very acrimonious divorce, and has apparently just broken up with the toxic girlfriend who may have contributed to the breakdown of his marriage. He feels guilty about disrupting the life of his son. He’s now given to bouts of moody introspection; long solitary sculling sessions on the River Thames (you mean they would actually let him that close to the Parliament Building ?).
He sourpuss persona and “loser” stink make him the perfect patsy for a government cover-up. It seems that MI5 had “turned” a former terrorist into a double agent, and eagerly awaited the results of his new association with another terrorist group, to see if he could provide names, and information of bombings before they happened.
But the best laid plans ‘oft go awry……In response to a suicide bombing, their “insider” is arrested by police who had tracked his previous involvement, and gleefully presented their prize catch as the “mastermind” of the latest operation.
Now this is embarrassing. The spy folks, having failed to prevent their double agent’s arrest, now have to try to secure the most bumbling defense they can, and keep the proceedings secret “in the interests of national security.” So our despondent Mr. Rose is recruited, along with, quite intentionally, his ex-girlfriend, Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall), who, conveniently, can’t communicate with each other about the case (something obscure about their having different legal functions). And all the evidence must be kept secret, and argued privately only before a selected judge. The government, assuming it’s smarter than everyone else, figures that even if the two screw-ups somehow stumble on something, they can still be castigated later for failing to disclose their previous relationship, after both had taken solemn oaths that neither had any personal connection with any of the principals. A sticky wicket, what?
Not surprisingly, our manipulated anti-heroes are more resourceful than anyone thought they could be. They have to be, because it’s a dangerous game of subterfuge they’re playing, and the forces who are “players” consider them to be eminently expendable.
Sufficiently complex to excite the imagination, but not so obtuse that we can’t figure out what’s happening, “Closed Circuit” is a surprisingly attractive offering for those who would like a break from CGI megalomania, and just revel in a pretty good story. It’s British, but the point is obvious, even from over here across the Pond, which is getting smaller all the time.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas