State of Play (2009)

State of Play (2009)

With a great screenplay, direction, and acting, State of Play is an entertaining political thriller that easily measures up to the likes of All the President’s Men.

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State of Play follows Cal McCaffrey (Russell Crowe), a seasoned Washington Globe reporter, who discovers a connection between the cases of the murders of a drug addict and pizza delivery man on the street and the suicide of a woman on the subway. The woman, Sonia Baker, worked as a researcher under Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck). At the PointCorp court hearing, Collins tells the media and people in attendance that she died, accidentally revealing tears of sadness in the progress. Consequently, the media starts blasting headlines, claiming Sonia Baker to be his ex-mistress. With a group of reporters camped out in front of his place, Collins turns to his college roommate/old friend Cal McCaffrey to allow him to stay a couple of nights at his place to avoid the paparazzi. McCaffrey—who is close to Stephen and his wife Anne (Robin Wright)—invites Stephen with open arms, and he apologizes for past mistakes. A little later, Stephen admits to McCaffrey that Sonia didn’t commit suicide and shows him proof that she wasn’t the cause of her death. Determined to find the truth and protect Stephen, McCaffrey recruits inexperienced reporter Della to investigate the company known as PointCorp—which is the same company Stephen Collins is investigating. But, as McCaffrey and Della will soon realize that this whole conspiracy is more complicated than they possibly imagined.

Director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) helms State of Play with skill and precision. Macdonald keeps the scenes tight, allowing the film to move at a brisk pace. Consequently, no scene in the film drags, thus, keeping viewers engaged throughout the film.

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Script-wise, Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy, and Billy Ray craft a well-written screenplay. State of Play is filled with poignant drama, suspense, and believable character dynamics. In terms of drama, the film mirrors the post-2008 financial crisis where newspapers left and right were struggling to keep their doors open.  In terms of suspense, the element is spread out nicely throughout the film, perfectly balancing out the dramatic elements. Perhaps the most rewarding aspects of the film are the character dynamics between the reporters. Cal McCaffrey believes in taking the necessary amount of time to find the truth behind the conspiracy, while Cameron (Helen Mirren), a newspaper editor who receives pressure from the Globe’s owners to sell more newspapers, wants to rush the story, so the Globe can profit from it. Because of the all the elements placed in State of Play, the film engages viewers, providing one of the most interesting political thrillers ever.

State of Play boasts a talented cast of actors. Crowe, who is known from movies Gladiator (2000) and A Beautiful Mind (2001), delivers a good performance as Cal McCaffrey. As Cal, Crowe displays subtle charisma and intelligence to obtain all the necessary clues to solve the conspiracy. Because of his amazing work in the film, this is considered one of his underrated performances. Rachel McAdams provides a solid performance. As Della, McAdams manages to evoke intelligence and raw determination, giving viewers reasons to believe that she is not only beautiful, but also smart and resourceful. Ben Affleck makes a turnaround in his career by delivering a good performance as Stephen Collins. Before State of Play, Affleck starred in movies Gigli (2003) and Daredevil (2003) and later received negative criticism for his performances in the films. Despite these criticized roles, Affleck rises to the challenge and proves that he’s a good actor. As Collins, Affleck exudes determination to put an end to PointCorp and to find the truth behind Sonia’s death. Supporting actors Robin Wright, Helen Mirren, Jason Bateman, and Jeff Daniels all deliver good performances on the same level as Crowe, McAdams, and Affleck. As a result, State of Play is a well-acted thriller with good actors beautifully portraying the characters, respectively.

With a great screenplay, direction, and acting, State of Play is an entertaining political thriller that easily measures up to the likes of All the President’s Men.

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Images from:

  1. First image: rachelmcadams.org
  2. Second image: Fanpop
  3. Third image: Collider
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