Since when did MI5 become as cinematically nefarious as the CIA?
Closed Circuit Blu-ray Review
Director John Crowley, and Writer Steven Knight deliver a mildly engaging conspiracy thriller hobbled by an implausible story, a dodgy accent, and a made-for-TV feel.Ironically this would have probably worked better as a British TV mini-series, rather than a full-blown feature film, where it would have been given the opportunity to better develop its characters, better explain the motivations, and build the story in a plausible and satisfying fashion. Unfortunately, with the limited time afforded it during a single feature outing, Closed Circuit smacks more of a British attempt to trade in US-style conspiracies, threatening to ruin any chance of suspension of disbelief along the way.As the two leads, Eric Bana (sporting a terrible accent that sees many of his actions feel like those of a petulant child) and Rebecca Hall do their utmost to sell the story, whilst Jim Broadbent and Ciaran Hinds offer some support, but they seldom strike the right balance between dramatic tension and plausible conspiracy. And the film offers up a strange dichotomy to the viewer – it’s most exciting sequences are also the most ludicrous, particularly with Riz Ahmed’s shady MI5 agent running around the streets with a garrotte.
Whilst I have hopes for writer Steven Knight’s upcoming Locke – probably due to lead actor Tom Hardy – he appears to have stretched things too far with this story, and the perfunctory efforts of director John Crowley don’t do anything to raise the piece above its middle-of-the-road aspirations. Whilst there are touches of enjoyment and intrigue, ultimately Closed Circuit neither rings true, nor entertains with sheer punch. It’s the kind of thing you can probably wait for when it comes to TV.
Closed Circuit Blu-ray Picture QualityClosed Circuit comes to Region Free UK Blu-ray complete with a solid if far from exceptional 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Drained to the extreme in terms of colour palette, this movie goes to great lengths to paint London in monochrome, with only the skin tones surviving relatively intact and, even then, at the cost of looking like they’ve never seen direct sunlight.
Still, notwithstanding the stylistic choices implemented, detail is strong and clean throughout, maintaining good clarity with no almost signs of digital defects – no excess DNR application, no banding or artifacting, and only a smidge of ringing around a couple of edges – and rendering excellent skin observation, clothing weaves and background textures. Noise levels are relatively stable and only very infrequently seem uneven.
The colour scheme, as aforementioned, offers up few colours that even approach the vibrant ballpark, instead restraining itself to a wintery palette (despite the fact that this could easily be a UK summer’s day) of sombre greys and browns. Still, the cinematography hits beautifully bleak dead centre. Black levels are reasonably strong, allowing for some decent night sequences, although there is a hint of crush which threatens the extremes of shadow detail.
A good video presentation, probably falling closer to very good, in spite of its limitations and fleeting reservations.
Closed Circuit Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is similarly competent, promoting the admittedly restrained soundtrack in a fine fashion, although it is, again, a far cry from being demo standard. Dialogue takes precedence across the mix, dominating the fronts and centre channel wherever appropriate, which isn’t a particularly hard thing to do. Effects are well-represented, nominally of the ambient variety, bringing life to the streets of London and energy to the courtroom scenes. The more engaging moments – including a couple of fairly effective, tense chase sequences – have an added punch to them where the surrounds appear to come to life and draw you into the thrills, and the LFE channel lends some further weight to the proceedings.
Far from a boisterous, stand-out effort, this restrained feature boasts a strong albeit similarly restrained audio track.
Closed Circuit Blu-ray ExtrasA shockingly insubstantial 3-minute promo barely deserves mention here.
Is Closed Circuit Blu-ray Worth BuyingClosed Circuit probably should have been converted into a TV mini-series, and may well have been more effective as such. Its CIA-inspired aspirations for the UK’s MI5 are somewhat far-fetched, which is further confusing when you realise just how perfunctory this preposterous thriller is.
This Region Free UK Blu-ray promotes very good video, solid audio, and basically no extras, making this a reasonable purchase for fans of the film. Everybody else may well be perfectly happy to just wait for it on TV.
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