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Article updated: 8/27/2013 3:21 PM

'Circuit' an intelligent, creepy, paranoia thriller

By

We're all being watched. All the time.

That's a key message of "Closed Circuit," an entertaining and well-crafted if not overly heart-stopping British conspiracy thriller starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall.

Security cameras are everywhere, giving us birds-eye glimpses of each character, and reminding us that we, too, are never really alone.

If this isn't a shocking concept, the makers of "Closed Circuit," an intelligent film directed by John Crowley, have certainly shown how creepy it can be.

In London -- one of the most watched places in the world in terms of security cameras -- you don't know who that cabdriver or dinner-party companion truly is. You don't even know which side your closest colleagues are on.

At least, such is life for Martin Rose (Bana) and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Hall), two lawyers who become ensnared in the legal case surrounding a horrific terror attack, the bombing of a bustling London food market where 120 people are killed.

Rowing peacefully on the Thames, Martin gets a call. The lawyer defending the lone surviving terror suspect has committed suicide. Work pressure and all that. Martin's been tapped to replace him.

As for Claudia, she's the Special Advocate, an additional defense lawyer designated by British law to examine secret evidence to be presented in "closed session," away from the public and the press. Even Martin cannot see this evidence.

He's not allowed to communicate with Claudia. This is easy at first, because they are estranged lovers. They're ambitious enough not to reveal their past romantic entanglement and thus be removed from the case. But if they're found out, it could end their careers.

A smart script by Steven Knight keeps the action humming along smoothly and concisely -- if sometimes a bit illogically.

Bana seethes with frustration and encroaching fear, and looks wonderful doing it. Hall brings the film its humanity, striking that difficult balance of competence and determination tempered by a growing recognition of her frailty.

A top-notch supporting cast features the always excellent Ciaran Hinds as Martin's close colleague, Denis Moschitto as the frightened defendant, Julia Stiles as an American journalist who's perhaps digging too deep, and, finally, the wonderful Jim Broadbent as the Attorney General -- Martin's boss.

You've seen Broadbent as Denis Thatcher and as Bridget Jones' dad; now watch him play an oily official whose cordial smile seems pasted on his face.

Never has an invitation to breakfast from the boss sounded quite so unappealing.

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