Review: Closed Circuit – A Paranoia Inducing Movie

The Hall and Oates song “Private Eyes” has the line “They see your every move” – which is also the slogan on the poster for the film Closed Circuit. What attracted me to this film in the first place was its low ranking on (#16 for the August 30 to September 1 2013 Labor Day weekend) and the fact that I’m a fan of Eric Bana.  The result is a film I highly recommend for reasons that will follow.

Director John Crowley has no blockbusters under his belt, 2003’s Intermission featured Star Trek’s Colm Meaney as well as Colin Farrell, pulling in a little under 5 million on a 5 million dollar budget; 2008’s Is Anybody There featured Michael Caine and brought in a little over 3 million, the director better known for his theater work than his motion pictures.  However, despite the uneven rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the lack of audience, I found Closed Circuit a fascinating Alfred Hitchcock meets James Bond thriller with a dash of Richard Gere’s Attorney Martin Vail (from Primal Fear, 1996) thrown in for good measure.

The trailer is the opening of the film, multiple images on a screen a la the Architect in the Matrix, absorbing information in the same way that we’ve seen the NSA doing (courtesy of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks) as well as the credible job the authorities in Boston, Massachusetts did with the Marathon Bombings – seeking out the perpetrators on videos provided by “little brother” – all those cameras everywhere that feed all that information to Big Brother.  Brave New World and 1984 are here, though the frogs in the warm water don’t truly feel things heating up.  Films like Close Circuit drive the point to the viewer in very declaratory fashion.  In the Matrix, the machines studied the humans they were using to power their electrical grid, the computer programs wanting to be human, while retaining their machine-like powers.   The machines controlled the humans in a ferocious way (more so than V.I.K.I (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) in I, Robot, the computer who thinks logically to help mankind out, or so “she” thinks).  There are no such sci-fi clichés here, this is your old fashioned Spy vs Spy with a new twist, that some individuals think they can control life on planet earth their way – and if there are casualties along the way, so what?  This line of thought is the basis for this paranoia-inducing film and the level of excitement holds up throughout.

Eric Bana’s Martin Rose picks up where Richard Gere’s Martin Vail from Primal Fear left off, sure-of-himself and cocky, Bana realizes he is being micro-managed, and he does a good job of studying the forces around him, from the clever journalist to his bosses, his client, and everything in between.   I found director Crowley’s pacing to be superb, as well as the fine editing, making for a tight little drama that moves along nicely and poses its own twists and turns that make it a unique sleeper worth paying attention to.

Bana, like Gere, is an actor who uses subtleties to draw the audience in; the older these fellows get the more interesting their approach to – and expansion of – their craft.

Closed Circuit Trailer

“Defense lawyers who ask the wrong sorts of questions – they’re expendable” notes actress Julia Stiles as New York Times reporter Joanna Reece.  Stiles is better known in the first three Bourne films as Treadstone operative Nicolette “Nicky” Parsons and plays her role very nicely here.

Rebecca Hall’s Claudia Simmons-Howe character works well as a sort of “Dr. Watson” to Bana’s Sherlock Holmes.  The film works on many levels and as time marches on, it is my pick to find a much larger audience that is obviously missing out on it first time around.

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for,, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.