Niagara Gazette — And then, like air going out of a balloon, the movie deflates into tedium. Dramatic action and smart editing are replaced by a lumbering ineffective story, which never captures the energy and excitement of the film’s opening scenes. Steven Knight’s screenplay concentrates on backroom deals and whispered asides, all delivered in dreary PBS-style Britishspeak. You know, stereotypical heavily accented mutteringS, and “tut tuts,” and “my good man.” One character even says, “what with the nasty divorce and custody battles and all that.”
Eric Bana is assigned to be the suspect’s new lawyer and through a plot contrivance that is ridiculous, he is forced to work with, but not talk to, his ex-wife, played by Rebecca Hall, who is neither a lively actress, nor an interesting one. Jim Broadbent is the Attorney General, which in this movie makes him the puppeteer. As a bothersome official, Ciaran Hinds prowls about looking for all the world like Boris Karloff at a petting zoo. There are courtroom games and strange protocols that are part of the plot simply to advance the lethargic story.
For example, that old chestnut about secret testimony comes into play. Keep the public unaware is one fellow’s mantra. And as a token nod to modernity, there’s a child with an important hand-held game who’s being hidden by a mysterious British agent. But the duplicitous fellow is played by such a youthful and lightweight actor, that these scenes can’t be taken seriously. He would be better cast as a stable-hand, but there isn’t one in the picture.
Bana and Hall aren’t supposed to know about the kid because the bombing suspect just might be working for someone whose identity would shock the nation. But perhaps he isn’t. By the time the loose ends are tied up in a very clumsy way, I didn’t care. Upper echelon powers, indeed.