London has a reputation as a city where the all-seeing eye of surveillance technology is especially pervasive. As the Christian Science Monitor put it in a report last year, it’s “considered the most spied-on city in the world, courtesy of its ubiquitous CCTV cameras, purportedly there to reduce crime.” So you hear that we’re getting a British political thriller titled “Closed Circuit” and you instantly start to imagine the creepy possibilities. None of which are explored, really, as director John Crowley (“Boy A”) churns out a familiar conspiracy exercise in which bureaucracy goes very, very bad. Instead of all-seeing, it’s more like seen it all before.
The story opens with a sequence that’s even rougher, surely, than the filmmakers intend, as a visual cacophony of monitor footage shows us the moments leading up to a deadly bombing in London’s Borough Market. Martin Rose (Eric Bana) is the lawyer appointed to defend a Muslim immigrant (Denis Moschitto) arrested as the mastermind, an assignment that’s already driven a troubled colleague to suicide. Adding to the load is the news that Martin’s ex-lover, Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall), is also working the trial as a special advocate for the accused, a dubious arrangement even without the tabloid-perfect conflict of interest. And what, exactly, is the classified evidence that only she’s allowed to see?