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    Closed Circuit Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Universal

    Jan 14 2014 03:22 PM | Kevin EK in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    Closed Circuit shows its surveillance video on Blu-ray with an edition that gives the British thriller a good picture and sound presentation. The movie is a pretty standard rundown of British paranoia memes, but it benefits from a good lead performance by Eric Bana and wily supporting turns from Jim Broadbent and Ciaran Hinds. The movie clocks in at a brisk 96 minutes and seems to be missing some connective tissue, but it’s certainly entertaining for a single viewing. Of course, if you take more than a few minutes to think about it, the plot completely unravels. The Blu-ray comes with only a quick featurette to serve as extra material.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Universal
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
    • Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DTS
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
    • Rating: R
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 36 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
    • Case Type:
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: ABC
    • Release Date: 01/07/2014
    • MSRP: $34.98

    The Production Rating: 2.5/5

    Closed Circuit clearly wants to be an intense cat-and-mouse thriller, pitting two attractive barristers against a corrupt system of intelligence and justice as they hunt for the truth. Countless movies have been made in this vein, particularly by Alfred Hitchcock in his prime, and it’s no secret as to why. When executed well, the formula results in what Gene Siskel once referred to as “a great movie to gobble popcorn to”. And Closed Circuit does have its moments. Starting off with a London truck bombing, the movie sets up Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall as the defense team for the suspected terrorist planner, and proceeds to slowly twist the screws on them as they realize the truth behind the incident. A scenario like this depends on the audience slowly picking up bits of information as the story unravels – with clues being provided along the way by supporting characters who usually deliver their lines with either a weighted or sarcastic emphasis. In this movie, that work is done by Ciaran Hinds and Jim Broadbent, who both are having a lot of fun keeping their cards close to their vests. Unfortunately, the movie’s parts simply don’t add up to the strong payoff one expects from a thriller – limping instead through some rather direct exposition and then failing to get much resolution out of the situation at all. It’s fun to watch through on a single time, but the whole enterprise comes apart once you spend more than a minute or two examining it.

    SPOILERS: The trick to a good thriller, and to any good mystery is a combination of interesting characters and very careful plotting. In this case, we have a couple of good characters, but the plotting seems to be much slighter than can hold the situation together. Now, to their credit, the filmmakers have kept the movie to just over 90 minutes, which at least doesn’t stretch the situation past the audience’s limit of patience. But the story at hand really isn’t well thought out. We’re asked to believe that the British Attorney General would knowingly assign two barristers who had previously been romantically involved to the same case. We’re asked to believe that British Intelligence would conspire with that Attorney General to rig a case just to cover up their own issues, and that they would kill (and threaten to kill) attorneys who figure out what’s going on. The entire movie’s plot depends on the notion that British Intelligence would keep this terrorist planner alive as a scapegoat for the whole movie, and then suddenly want to kill the same guy when things get too tricky. Which frankly opens a giant plothole – they could have killed the man right away and not had the whole rigamarole of a legal case around him. The movie also wants the viewer to believe that our heroes can be threatened and attacked, sometimes repeatedly, but that in the end, British Intelligence will just decide to leave them alone. And of course the viewer must believe that our heroes wouldn’t have any issue with the fact that these guys were trying to kill them…

    MORE SPOILERS: There is an interesting concept at work here, but it gets lost amid all the conspiracy theories and the furrowed brows of the actors. The overall canvas of the movie is clearly meant to emphasize the idea of a surveillance state – where not only the terrorist incident but all the actions of the barristers can be seen on closed circuit television, hence the title of the movie. That’s a great concept, and one wishes that a better story could have been built from it. As it is, the story at hand seems rather pointless by the time the viewer unravels the details. The short length of the movie helps a bit in that the viewer doesn’t have enough time to yell “Huh???” too many times. But it’s also likely that more connective tissue to explain some plot areas has been cut from the film. The movie seems to have been edited to emphasize the “sizzle” of various action beats rather than to work out whether things make sense. As an added issue, key dialogue gets mumbled at different times. A British audience will likely be able to deduce what these people are saying much more easily than an American one, but we’re dealing with an American home video release. Without getting into dubbing, one would still want the dialogue to be intelligible – and in several cases here, it is not.

    Closed Circuit has been released simultaneously on Blu-ray and standard definition this past week. The Blu-ray has everything from the standard DVD, and adds high definition picture and sound.

    Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    Closed Circuit is presented in a 1080p AVC 2.40:1 transfer (@ an average 32 mbps) that presents the movie in satisfying high definition. The movie’s picture quality happily moves back and forth between normally presented scenes, and video surveillance of the same moments. The overall look of the movie is a bit gray, but that’s an intentional effect. I note that multiple scenes by the bank of the Thames at least don’t make the water look nearly as brown as can be seen in reality. I say this as a honest compliment to the cinematographer, and in appreciation for the fine transfer.

    Audio Rating: 4/5

    Closed Circuit is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English (@ an average 3.8 mbps), which works well to convey the music and sound effects in the surrounds, and to deliver the dialogue in the front speakers. The only issue here, again, is with some of the dialogue being difficult to understand. Granted, this audio mix will work for the target British audience, and it seems to be an accurate reflection of the theatrical mix. But it does get tedious to repeatedly need to turn subtitles on to understand what people are saying at critical moments. There is also a Spanish DTS 5.1 track.

    Special Features: 0.5/5

    The Blu-ray presentation of Closed Circuit comes with only a single featurette, running less than four minutes and covering very little ground. The Blu-ray packaging also includes the DVD of the movie.

    Secrets Behind the Camera: Closed Circuit – (3:44, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON DVD AND BLU-RAY) – This is a really quick featurette that skims the surface. The actors all praise the movie and give the usual mutual compliments. Like the feature itself, the featurette is short and to the point.

    DVD Copy – A second disc is included in the package, holding the standard DVD of the movie, presented in standard definition in an anamorphic 2.40:1 picture with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound in English and Spanish (448 kbps). The featurette is included as well.

    Digital Copy – Instructions are included in the packaging for downloading a digital copy of the movie to your laptop or portable device.
    Subtitles are available for the film and the special features, in English, Spanish and French. A full chapter menu is available for the film.

    Overall Rating: 2.5/5

    Closed Circuit is a nice try at a modern conspiracy thriller, but it just doesn’t get there. There are good performances along the way, and the Blu-ray shows off a great high definition transfer of the picture. It’s not too long of a movie, and on the first viewing, there are definitely some entertaining moments. But by the end of the movie, the viewer is likely wondering what the heck happened, not to mention what exactly the characters are saying at various crucial points.

    Reviewed by: Kevin EK
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    This is not an "Americanized" thriller wrapped in a tidy bow.


    This is the story about a cover-up. Specifics of said cover-up are irrelevant.


    This is a "who speaks for us, when they know all...and hide the information".

    I would argue that Closed Circuit actually does wrap itself up in a fairly perfunctory manner.  Which is exactly the problem - a more complex plot would have been preferable. The thing about cover-ups is that the details are where the really interesting materials can be found. For example, All The President's Men is a treasure trove of such details.  It's the revelation of those details that can make or break thrillers like this one.