State of Play Movie Review

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Russell Crowe Stars in First Rate Thriller

Academy Award winner Russell Crowe leads an all-star cast in the top-notch investigative thriller, State of Play, directed by Kevin Macdonald.

When Washington Globe reporter Cal McAffery, played by Russell Crowe is assigned to cover a crime scene, he thinks it’s just another double homicide. As he begins to investigate, however, he becomes aware of information linking this apparently ordinary murder scene to the suspicious of death of Sonia Baker, an aide to Congressman Stephen Collins, played by Ben Affleck. Collins is a college friend of McAffery, who immediately begins to investigate, sensing a better story.

State of Play Plot Summary

As McAaffery and Washington Globe blogger Della Frye, played by Rachael McAdams, continue to dig, they uncover a disturbing corporate conspiracy. Organized by PointCorp, a powerful private security company, this conspiracy is designed to discredit Congressman Collins, who has been investigating PointCorp’s activities, as part of the government approval process for outsourcing intelligence gathering operations and the interrogation of suspected terrorists.

As McAffery and Frye’s investigation continues they begin to uncover several secrets that, if revealed, could damage Congressman Collins’ reputation. While it is already known that Collins and Baker had an illicit affair, it was not known that she was pregnant with his illegitimate child when she was pushed in front of a Washington DC subway train. Additionally, it was previously not known that Sonia Baker, who had been hired specifically to conduct research into PointCorp’s activities, was in fact a PointCorp spy, sent to gather information on Congressman Collins’ activities.

Meanwhile, MediaCorp, a PointCorp subsidiary company, which has recently purchased the Washington Globe, has been putting pressure on Chief Editor Cameron Lynne, played by Helen Mirren, to shut down McAaffery and Frye’s investigation. By this time McAffery and Frye’s investigation has brought them to Dominic Foy, a sleazy public relations expert, played by Jason Bateman, who recommended Sonia Baker to Congressman George Fergus, played by Jeff Daniels.

State of Play Critique

Despite its convoluted plot and wheels-within-wheels political and corporate machinations director Kevin Macdonald has done an excellent job juggling the movie’s many plot threads, rarely allowing them to drop. Having said this, there were some points which could have been clarified. For example, it is revealed that Collins asked a war buddy to keep an eye on Sonia Baker, suspecting that something was going on. However, when Roger Bingham makes a call on his cell phone saying that he is about to finish what he started, it is not clear who he is speaking to.

The real surprise of the movie, however, was Ben Affleck. Following the critical disaster that was Gigli and the mediocre action movies Daredevil and Paycheck, Affleck has been mostly out of the limelight. If that is the case, then Affleck’s performance in State of Play is a revelation. The role of Stephen Collins called for an actor who could be charismatic and gain the audience’s trust while hiding a secret at the same time. That Ben Affleck was able to achieve this demonstrates a desire to be taken seriously in his profession, as well as considerable growth as an actor.

The strength of the movie lies in its story. State of Play is a first rate thriller that provides a look at how investigative reporters do what they do, both in and out of the newsroom. At the same time, the movie provides enough twists and turns to keep the audience guessing right to the end.

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