“Closed Circuit” plays off paranoia

SECURITY: British A-list movie uses current hype around Snowden, NSA fears to promote film.

Eric Bana stars in thriller “Closed Circuit.” Photo courtesy of Washington Post.

Paranoia is at an all-time high now because of recent doubts surrounding the National Security Agency and its so called methods of “protecting” citizens. The newest political thriller, “Closed Circuit,” does a good job playing on this paranoia.

“Everyone is being watched, every moment recorded” is the marketing line that immediately had people looking over their shoulders.

In the United Kingdom and here in the United States, this is a very real fear. The U.K. has recently implemented a covert surveillance system that monitors and records public conversations, according to The Telegraph.

In May of 2013, The Guardian, a news source in the United Kingdom, published NSA documents leaked to them by NSA employee Edward Snowden. The leaked documents revealed the U.S. government’s plan to implement the decoding of telephone metadata and use of internet surveillance systems. Americans panicked at the thought of the privacy invasion.

People fear emails being read and other personal files being gone through without permission by the government after the recent leaks.

Feeding off of this extreme paranoia, “Closed Circuit” reveals the governmental tracking of Martin and Claudia, two lawyers, as they dig deeper into a secret government program in the U.K.

Like all political thriller films, Martin and Claudia soon find themselves immersed in a world of secrets that eventually put their lives in danger as they dig up government conspiracies. This is an extreme example of what could happen if the power revealed in the NSA documents by Snowden gets abused.

The extremity of the situation comes from the danger of the information the lawyers dig up, which is that a government agency is responsible for the terrorist act that their client is being charged with. In reality, many Americans just have to worry about their privacy being invaded rather than their life being threatened because of government surveillance.

Advertisements for the film played it off as a high intensity drama with of focus on government surveillance and abuse of this power.  While surveillance is abused during the film by government agencies and other parties, the intensity needed to push along a thriller dies after the first scene.

The first scene captures audiences as we view a terrorist bombing through the lenses of many security cameras in the Borough Market in London. Viewers are immediately caught up in the action, but the thrills die after this first gripping sequence.

Directed by John Crowley (known for political films such as “Boy A” and “Intermission”), “Closed Circuit” focuses on the trial of the convicted Borough Market terrorist. Throughout the preparation of the trail displayed in the movie, we lose interest in what really made us want to view the film.

Without Snowden and the recent information on the dealings of the NSA, the movie would have been a flop. As a viewer, I would have liked more ties into the surveillance of citizens and less into the conspiracy of government terrorist attacks and the personal lives of the two main characters.

The movie began with a bang but faded into much more of a fizzle by the closing scene. The impression left by the end is that the way the government is functioning these days, it is in our best interest to stay paranoid.

Erin Cheever is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].