State of Play
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald
Starring: Ben Affleck, Russell Crowe, Rachael McAdams, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels, Viola Davis
Runtime: 127 min
Studio: Universal Pictures
State of Play is an exciting thriller which weaves together a host of recognizable storylines involving the American government. A political murder mystery like State of Play offers a little vindication for those who believe that our regime is crooked. Now, if only, for once, these films could offer an accountability plan or solutions for Federal bad behavior. Kinda, sorta like real life!
Set in Washington, D.C., Russell Crowe is Cal McAffrey, a curmudgeonly investigative reporter for a major daily newspaper. McAffrey lends an ear and a shoulder to his former college roommate, U. S. Senator Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), when the elected official finds himself in a pickle. Collins’s research assistant has been murdered, which cast a suspicious light on the good Senator.
Following the same storyline as the award winning 2003 British television series of the same name, State Of Play is an edge of your seat crime story. The film brings to mind federally inspired and sponsored corporate corruption, think Halliburton; the death of the young innocent other woman, think Chandra Ann Levy; and a political system that screws the little guy (now grab a tissue, look in the mirror, pat yourself on the back, sniff,sniff). The State Of Play protagonist are newspaper reporters, a dying breed indeed and a great time for the profession to produce more heroes.
Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) an intelligent and idealistic eager young reporter, has her own method of unearthing the story, when, to her dismay, she is coupled with McAffrey. It is a clash of reporting cultures between Frye and McAffrey. Long haired smart hippie type, he is an old school, investigative reporter, cute, crisp, quick, and a by the book idealist, she is a young, hungry blogger, and their differences become their strengths. Cameron Lynne (Helen Mirren) is the foul-mouthed editor of the newspaper that is desperately trying to survive. Lynne is a tough talking hard hitting professional under the fledging newspaper gun, in this, a marriage, of necessity, she needs a powerful headliner narrative quickly.
State of Play has so many twists, you’ll think Chubby Checker wrote the screenplay. The challenge with this star studded film is that in the end, if you really think about it, the film makes little to no sense. The action and word play is so engrossing, that it is not until you really think about the plot, do you wonder who they were fooling? Similar to the manufacturers of ice cream, toilet paper, and even the popcorn we eat at the local movie theatre, the packages are graphically exactly the same, but they have gotten smaller. And the manufacturer’s honestly think that we didn’t notice the shrinkage. But in fact we did notice that the new half a gallon is much smaller, and that double roll of toilet paper looks like what we grew up calling a "regular" roll. And in State of Play you wonder how the soldier knew where to go in the end? What was the uniform for? How did Anne Collins (Robin Wright Penn) the Senator’s wife really know about the $26,000 payments?
My best advice is to go ahead and enjoy the action and high energy of State of Play film, and after the credits roll, reflect no more. It is best this way.
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