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Originally published August 28, 2013 at 12:09 AM | Page modified August 28, 2013 at 7:20 PM

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‘Closed Circuit’: Legal thriller doesn’t make a case for itself

“Closed Circuit” is not without its charms. You just might wish the convoluted British thriller had a few more of them, writes Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 2 stars

‘Closed Circuit,’ with Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Jim Broadbent, Ciaran Hinds, Denis Moschitto, Julia Stiles, Riz Ahmed, Anne-Marie Duff. Directed by John Crowley, from a screenplay by Steve Knight. 96 minutes. Rated R for language and brief violence. Several theaters.

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There are pleasures to be had in the convoluted British thriller “Closed Circuit”: Rebecca Hall’s expressive face; Jim Broadbent chewing his role like it’s taffy; a courtroom scene in which the judge says, “Wigs off.” But they’re few and far between; mostly, this movie is a series of well-acted implausible events, tied together by a lot of scenes of people running.

After a terrorism attack in London leaves many dead, one man (Denis Moschitto) is arrested for the crime. The trial approaches, the accused’s lawyer mysteriously dies, and a new defense attorney named Martin Rose (Eric Bana) is appointed — who happens to be the former lover of the Special Advocate defense attorney, Claudia Simmons-Howe (Hall). (What is a Special Advocate? This movie’s characters will explain it to you, at great length.) It is, of course, not OK for two attorneys with a previous personal connection to be serving together in such capacities; nonetheless, Martin and Claudia decide they’re just going to go right ahead and lie about their shared history to the Attorney General (Broadbent) because ... well, I don’t know, and I’m not sure the filmmakers do either.

All of this happens in the early moments of the movie; the rest unfolds as legal-tinged thrillers tend to do, with chases and conspiracies and a lot of sinister-looking file folders. The cast keeps things just interesting enough, and director John Crowley maintains a mercifully snappy pace, but there’s nothing here that stays with you once the popcorn bag’s empty — except the hope that Hall will soon run, as quickly as possible, into a better movie.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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