Conspiracy thrillers, rather like conspiracy theories themselves, range from the frighteningly plausible to the plain silly. Closed Circuit is a 2013 conspiracy thriller movie which has not, as far as I can see, pleased too many critics. But I think the panning it's received in some quarters is far too harsh. I found it very watchable. And not just because the story featured a solicitor called Devlin and a heroic lawyer called Martin!
The cast is very good, and several of its members are in excellent form. Rebecca Hall, who seldom seems to put a foot wrong, is convincing as a committed barrister, and Kenneth Cranham exudes a subdued version of his characteristic menace in his role as a judge. Ciaran Hinds plays the dodgy Devlin, Jim Broadbent excels as the slimy attorney general, and although I don't think Eric Bana is in quite the same league, he's not at all bad as the arrogant barrister Martin who grows as a character as he stumbles across evidence of dirty tricks at the heart of the establishment.
The film begins with a bang, as an explosion rips apart Borough Market, but the story begins in earnest some months later, with the trial of the alleged ringleader of the shadowy group of terrorists who were responsible. Because some of the evidence has national security implications, the rules require a defence barrister who handles the case in open court, and a special defence counsel who deals with the secret information. Bana takes over the former role when his predecessor commits suicide, and the first of many complications is that he is the former lover of the special counsel, played by Hall.
I think some of the criticism of the film stems from disappointment about the relatively superficial nature of the film's focus on the surveillance state. As a critique of government and the security services, it's so-so. But judged as a thriller, I think it works well. The pace is good throughout, the twists pleasing, and the storyline reasonably distinctive. Of course, you have to suspend your disbelief, but I was happy to do just that. An under-rated film, which offers well-made entertainment.