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  • About a month before State of Play came into theaters, I read an article in The Washington Post (I live in the D.C. area) about the realism of the news industry as portrayed in the movie. One of the Post reporters served as a consultant on the set and I must say that he seems to have done his job. Almost every aspect, from the constantly chaotic state of the newsroom to the reporter-lingo, feels authentic and true to reality. While there are occasional times when the movie's main character, the reporter Cal McCaffrey, strays from the usual ethical and professional guidelines, there are logical explanations for such instances that are given in the movie. At one point, Russell Crowe even ad-libs a line about the outdated technology he has compared to the state-of-the-art computers given to Della Fry, Rachel McAdams's gossipy blogger: "I've been here fifteen years, I've got a sixteen year old computer. She's been here fifteen minutes and she's got enough gear to launch a f***ing satellite." This line was inspired by the feud between print journalists and their online counterparts that, according to the Post reporter, exists in real-life. Because journalism is so crucial to the story of State of Play, every minute detail contributes greatly to the believability of the film as a whole and it is this attention to detail that really elevates State of Play above the average political thriller.

    The cast, which includes three Oscar winners, though Ben Affleck won for screen writing, could not be more perfect. With his long, shaggy hair, bulging belly and old, trash-littered car, Russell Crowe looks appropriately scruffy and he disappears into his role, becoming one of the most convincing journalists on screen in recent years. It is impossible to imagine anyone else in the role, especially Brad Pitt, who was originally signed on for the part. As his partner on the story, Rachel McAdams delivers, giving her character a very energetic yet idealistic flavor. Della Fry is, at least in the beginning, a rather obnoxious woman but, in large part due to McAdams, she gradually becomes more likable and we learn to accept her for who she is. Helen Mirren is splendid as Cameron, McCaffery and Fry's insistent boss, and every time she appears, the screen comes alive (not that it's dead when she isn't there). Ben Affleck once again proves that he can act when given the right material. He gives his character, a promising congressman, an air of detached arrogance mixed with frustrated vulnerability. Representative Stephen Collins certainly has his principles but throughout the film, that sense of morality is largely shrouded in secrets and mystery and the audience is forced to constantly guess and re-guess his true intentions. Aside from the main actors, the supporting cast does a terrific job with a slightly comedic, almost delightfully over-the-top performance by Jason Bateman as a pretentious PR agent. Also worth noting is Viola Davis, who plays a contact of McCaffrey's in the morgue, and even though she only appears in one scene, she makes the most of that short screen-time that, in turn, makes us remember her well.

    Other than the superb cast, one of the most impressive things about State of Play is the script, which was written by Tony Gilroy, Billy Ray and Matthew Michael Carnahan and based on the 2003 BBC mini-series of the same name. However, it bears Tony Gilroy's distinctive mark not only because it involves corporate conspiracies and unending twists, but the witty dialogue could have been written by almost no one else. Occasional instances of humor help lighten the otherwise rather dark mood. Also, the writing is highly intelligent and makes the audience actually think rather than simply go along with the complicated plot. This can also be contributed to the direction of Kevin MacDonald who, after winning an Oscar for his documentary One Day in September in 1999 and directing the Oscar-winning feature film The Last King of Scotland, proves that he has loads of talent and hopefully, will remain prominent in the film-making industry.

    Other noteworthy aspects of the movie are the cinematography and the score, both of which help carry the tension throughout the entire two-and-a-half hour film, even during quieter scenes. However, State of Play is not quite perfect. The main, and perhaps only, flaw is the minor plot holes that, while virtually unnoticeable during the actual viewing of the movie, become more obvious upon dissecting the movie afterwards. It is impossible to discuss these errors in detail without giving anything away, but they do make the conclusion a little less satisfying.

    Nonetheless, the movie is so good in all other areas that it is still easy to overlook the implausibility of the ending. From the virtually flawless cast and writing to the authenticity of its portrayal of journalists and the thought-provoking political themes, State of Play stands out among all the conventional political thrillers churned out by Hollywood in recent years. Go see it!
  • Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is helping with the government investigation of a shady military-based company when he receives word that his mistress has committed suicide. Visually distraught, he leaves a hearing in tears and sets off a media circus. Seasoned reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) was his roommate in college, and the two have remained friends. In a bid to quash the political blogging of junior reporter Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), McAffrey sets out to find the truth about the story.

    State of Play sets itself up early on to be a cookie-cutter, predictable thriller. But as the film progresses, it rather quickly becomes the twisty and conniving thriller it needs to be. Despite being heavily dialogue driven, the film is an intense ride that will keep people on edge throughout. Some scenes are downright terrifying in their amped up suspense and political intrigue. This film really set out to be tense, and succeeds wonderfully. It knows just what punches to pull, and when to pull them.

    The script, written by political scribes Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilory and Billy Ray, is insight and intriguing. It could have easily been made boring and inundated with rehashed politicalisms (like all of their last films), but this film revels in how interesting it becomes. It has laughs strung throughout (a genuine surprise), and lacks the nerve to become loaded to the brim with facts and innuendos. Instead, it expertly weaves between scenes, amping up the intensity of some scenes, and downplaying others.

    But this is mainly due to the incredible performances by the cast. Crowe (who I usually loathe) and Affleck are simply outstanding in their roles. Age issues aside, both play their character with finesse and charisma. Affleck looks and acts like a confused wet-behind-the-ears, gunning-for-higher-office political pawn from beginning to end. Some of the reactions on his face are downright devastating in how excellently they are conveyed. And this is a guy critics once said could not act. Coupled with one-two shot of acting in Hollywoodland and directing Gone Baby Gone, we may be seeing a renewed resonance and importance for the Oscar-winner. Crowe on the other hand, delivers his strongest performance in years. While he has been downplayed and underused in his last few films, he carries this film. He is stubborn and vaguely likable, but he makes his character work for all of his idiosyncrasies and ethically-questionable tactics. He makes a seasoned journalist look like an amateur.

    McAdams, all but a ghost recently, holds her own against the two heavy-hitters and delivers a performance that is both inspired and emotional. It gives her a lot of room to act, and she delivers in every instance. The rest of the cast is a bit mixed however, as so little of them is given that much to do. Harry Lennix, Robin Wright Penn, Jeff Daniels, the horrifying Michael Berresse and especially Jason Bateman, all deliver noteworthy performances, but never get to really shine in them. They all have their traits and motivations, but get little screen time to truly express them. They each are developed quite strongly, but they lack the movement afforded to Crowe, Affleck and McAdams. I simply loved Helen Mirren's scenery-gauging editor and all of her subtleties. But she too, is downplayed to the point of almost barely being in the film.

    Despite its intensity, the film is bogged down by its dialogue-heavy scenes and consistent character additions. It is easy to keep track of everyone, but so many people are introduced that the film loses its focus on more than one occasion. It makes for a few scenes that are merely filler between the scenes of useful heavy acting. It just feels so tiring. I understand now how daunting a task it must have been to convert six hours of British television into a 127-minute film, but there are scenes that are just too easy to not have been cut out (some entire mildly useful subplots may have helped). Adding characters in makes sense for a story about two journalists frantically searching to lift the lid on a story, but there needs to be more emphasis on what was needed and not needed. A brilliant montage in the middle of the film goes almost entirely to waste because the filmmakers lack the knowledge of what should be cut. Limiting the preposterous and silly climax could have also done wonders. The scenes that are left in the film (including the finale) are great, but they could have been stronger if they were as tightly wound as the film wants itself to be. A little less shaky hand camera movement could have also significantly benefited the film.

    Even with its problems, it is clear from the on-set of the first shot in the bullpen at the Washington Globe that the filmmakers are going for a very keen sense of homage to All the President's Men. While the on-going and very professional relationship between McAffrey and Frye is very similar to Woodward and Bernstein, the fabric of journalistic integrity and researching are the core of State of Play. The film is loaded with allusions to the Oscar-winning film, and even mimics shots right out of the film. While it is obvious for anyone who has seen Men, this film's nods are done in such a delicate and unique way that they never become distracting or blatant. The film is its own, and does not ever feel like it is living in its big-brother's shadow. It is a fresh take on old-fashioned reporting in a very digital age, and frequently walks the tight line of old versus new.

    State of Play looked interesting, and surprisingly delivers on almost every count. It is not a perfect film, but it is a solid example of great film-making. It wants to be more, but seems content at being a twisty and suspenseful modern thriller.

  • A gruff old-school reporter (Russell Crowe playing his A-game) becomes personally entangled in a breaking news story surrounding his old college buddy turned congressman (Ben Affleck, not as bad as you would think) and a young female aid who died under mysterious circumstances in the surprisingly plausible political thriller "State of Play" from director Kevin MacDonald who was previously responsible for "The Last King of Scotland". Though designed as a throw-back to paranoid investigative thrillers from the 1970's, relevance is gained when the massive cover-up revealed becomes a vehicle for the filmmakers to explore the death of print news at the hand of digital mediums.

    The twisty and engaging screenplay is credited to three scribes: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray. But it's Gilroy's fingerprints that shape the story with all the overlapping dialogue and conspiracy talk that will remind many of his "Michael Clayton". Adapted from a sprawling BBC miniseries created by Paul Abbott, the trio is especially deft in their condensing of the story into a fully digestible two hours. Even as new characters and twists keep coming, the audience is never left out in the cold. They also give the cast plenty to chew on with some great throw-away lines amidst all the posturing between the cops, reporters, politicians and sleaze-bags.

    Though it's Crowe and Helen Mirren as his sparring and quick-witted boss who shine the most, this is essentially an ensemble piece, and it's especially clever when Jason Bateman arrives on screen for a few pivotal scenes as a smug public relations guru who's too dumb to realize he knows too much. The cast also includes Robin Wright Penn as Affleck's wife, Jeff Daniels as the arrogant majority whip and Harry Lennix, who as a D.C. detective makes a compelling case here for the lead role in the Barack Obama Story. The only miscalculation in the casting is poor Rachel McAdams, lovely but annoying in her high-pitch as Crowe's blogging tag-along looking to kick it old-school and get something in print.

    By the third act "State of Play" overplays its hand in its attempts to be timely with too much talk of the privatization of the military, Capitol Hill sex scandals and traditional newspapers losing out in the digital age to bloggers more concerned with gossip than real journalism. It could've also been more subtle in its preaching about the importance of serious investigative reporting. It should be commended, however, for an otherwise smart screenplay that doesn't spell out all its twists and turns too early and the well polished cast who give the film a slick sheen. Even though it might be reporting on yesterday's news, "State of Play" still makes for solid rainy day entertainment and is worthy of blogging about.
  • Crowe brings his A game (despite an occasional accent slip) to his role as a world-weary reporter with the newly purchased Washington Globe, helmed by Helen Mirren's very engaging take on Perry White/Katharine Graham. If you like thrillers you won't be disappointed in this pic that runs 2 hours and feels less than half of that. "State of Play" isn't perfect and the number of plot points that need to come together veritably dictate some implausibility at the end but if you compare this film to any five suspense-thrillers (at least Hollywood-made) that have come out in the past five years, you have to appreciate the whole package: Acting (and I disagree with the Ben Affleck naysayers here, he acquitted himself very well), character acting (Viola Thomas, Jason Batemen and Harry Lennix compete equally with a fraction of the time of the major players), interesting and gripping plot and story development, and overall believability all make this a first-rate film and one all involved should be proud of. The subtext of love and loss surrounding the non- entertainment print media also lends more than a little credibility and sympathy to the effort. I hope this film succeeds on a financial level and inspires at least one or two ambitious filmmakers to make movies in the same vein. Without doubt, there are too few genre pics of this caliber and State of Play shows it can be done well, even into the 21st century.
  • I attended a pre-release screening of the new film, State of Play, with anticipation of seeing both quality work from actor Russell Crowe and screenwriter Tony Gilroy. I also entered the theater with a degree of apprehension about how well this feature length film would measure up to the brilliantly acted and crafted six-part BBC series that was the basis for the film. Crowe well-embodied the tenacious old-school investigative journalist that we've come to know from classics, such as "All the President's Men." However, the multifaceted ensemble of journalists, portrayed by a rich range of actors from the BBC series (John Simm, Kelly MacDonald, James McAvoy), is missing from this feature film where Russell Crowe does all the work. The complexity of the plot, which includes the competing professional interests and emotional needs of the characters in the British miniseries, is largely eliminated in this big screen version. Ben Affleck and Robin Wright Penn do not seem to appreciate and respond to the high stakes events that could turn their lives inside out and upside down. What this film shares with the miniseries is the glimpse into the mechanics of running a journalistic investigation under the pressure of time and editorial interference, but the personal stories suffer from not being fleshed out and made to feel real and compelling to watch. It is not fair to compare one piece of art to another, but when two productions are related, and you've seen the original, it is difficult to view the second production without prejudice. It is like trying to unring a bell.

    The new film, State of Play, is a convincing thriller, but it fails to also deliver as a richly defined character drama.

    Curiosity will drive those who saw the BBC series to see this film, and the rich pedigree of the film production will draw in those who know nothing about the original miniseries. Everyone will ultimately be satisfied by seeing both productions (miniseries is on DVD) so that they can make the comparisons and connections that any thinking film-goer will want to do.
  • Whether you loved em' or hated em', espionage thrillers made up a generous portion of cinema from the 1940-50's. With fast paced, edge of your seat story lines, plot twists, political undertones and dramatic personal struggles with morality, nobody did it better than Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell. Their attention to character detail and it's purpose in conjunction with the narrative gave heart and humanity to this new string of movies which could have fallen into similar (yet shallower) alpha male characters such as James Bond. Never the less, we cannot forget that ultimately if it weren't for their vision and invention of the genre, Hollywood may have never capitalized on the staggeringly profitable Bond franchise that's still going strong today.

    In the mid 70's, due to the heat of the political environment at that time, the genre decided to go in the same direction. All The Presidents Men, brought to light the investigative strategies of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and tackled the Watergate scandal from the perspective of the Washington Post. As audiences, we shared in the thrill of being able to follow the case as it unfolded, interviewing witnesses and piecing together clues in order to make a 10 O'clock print deadline. We were part of the chase, the scandal and always privy to the evidence necessary to solve the mystery at hand...that is until a new piece of evidence arose and bashed in all of our original assumptions.

    State of Play may be the first film to pay homage to this Pakula classic while dually creating more poignant themes for today's political atmosphere. Crowe plays a reporter for the Washington Post and McAdams, an internet blogger, serving as our Woodward and Bernstein clones on the case of a Senator, Affleck, whose mistress succumbs to a rather untimely death VIA train tracks. To add insult to injury, it turns out that our reporter and senator are practically best friends. The plot unfolds, relationships falter and the real truth, to our pleasant surprise, blindsides us like a drunk driver on a narrow road.

    Director Kevin Macdonald clearly knows what he's doing here and along with a well written screenplay by Tony Gilroy, carefully crafts a neat, sharp and extremely entertaining thrill ride of a movie whose run time is 2 hours and 15 minutes, but feels like 30. State of Play never fails at keeping you guessing, does a fine job of throwing in a few curve balls, and leaves you with a clean taste in your mouth come end credits. What more do you want? Sure. It isn't the next Best Picture and Crowe won't take home an Oscar, but you'll enjoy some nail biting action scenes and there are much worse things to look at than Rachel McAdams on the big screen for a few hours.

    Helen Mirren is delightful in what little screen time she is given. Affleck is "good", although decided to play it completely safe in a role that even he really can't screw up. Lets face it, he needed to gain even a small amount of points since Hollywoodland and the flops that followed in his footsteps.

    Overall, you'll be as pleased and refreshed as I was to see a picture that has the finesse of an espionage thriller, the entertainment value of an All The Presidents Men political drama and the edginess that we should expect from a modern day piece of cinema that doesn't star Miley Cyrus.
  • You have to see this movie. I am not playing any games here. If you want to see a classic style movie that is cunning, interesting and lets you have fun with your imagination, you have to see this movie.

    In the waning years of the newspaper industry, we see a very classy Helen Mirren play a "Devil wears Prada"-ish editor who runs The Washington Globe. Overpowering his boss(with charm and experience, of course), Russell Crowe is the very type of gutsy(almost brave) newspaper reporter that anyone who wanted to be in his shoes can admire. And yet he teams up with a Globe blogger(Rachel McAdams) who dares to see herself as his equal(and she really is). Crowe's and McAdams' characters brilliantly investigate a deadly situation tainted with national intrigue that includes the young yet powerfully influential Stephen Collins played by Ben Affleck.

    I was on the edge of my seat most of the time, thrilled with this actual adventure in the city without any fear of cartoons or ray guns spoiling the appearance of authenticity. Movies like this are made so rarely, it was almost sad to leave the theater. I will see it again this weekend for sure.

    I give it a high 9 and now I will try to get the BBC Miniseries version of State Of Play for comparison's sake which stars my favorite BBC TV star who I enjoyed as Sam Tyler on the BBC's Life On Mars (which had a better appeal than the US version).
  • I would label this a "decent-but-unmemorable political thriller," something you'd probably enjoy viewing but a few weeks later had forgotten much of it. Usually, movies which star Russell Crowe are more dynamic, although Crowe still mesmerizes as usual.

    I liked the twists and turns at the end, but one has to wait about two hours for those and that's a little too long a wait. As slick a production as it was, and with acceptable acting from actor, it was many of the characters here that seemed more like Hollywood stereotypes than real-life people.

    There was Crowe with the hippie looks from 30-40 years ago and who has the daring of James Bond; the Washington newspaper editor being a foul-mouthed Brit (crusty Helen Mirren) who uses profane expresses the Americans wouldn't know; the neophyte blogster (Rachel McAdams) being drop-dead gorgeous and getting her way despite tough bosses; the bad guys being anyone connected with the military (man, is that getting old, from Dr. Strangelove to today's films - it never changes), the professional sniper/assassin conveniently missing the good guy (Crowe) although he could kill anyone get the picture - a few too many liberal film clichés. The most realistic character was probably "Rep. Stephen Collins (D-Pa)," played by the least of the actors, Ben Affleck.

    As for minor characters, I thought "Dominic Foy," played by Jason Bateman, was fascinating, as was Robin Wright.

    Overall, for entertainment purposes it was okay; not something you'd yawn and fall asleep watching, although you might be confused here and there. Through the gimmicks of hyped-up music and sound effects here and there, the suspense was evident throughout the two-plus hours. It's also an interesting look at today's battle between old and new "media," meaning newspapers and the Internet, respectively.

    Overall, it's enough to warrant as a purchase at the rental store but not as a blind buy despite the "name" cast.
  • ...........................................................from Pasto,Colombia...Via: L.A. CA., CALI, COLOMBIA....and ORLANDO, FL

    Tried to avoid having much in the way of expectations for STATE of PLAY, but it was hard to be oblivious to the all the general good buzz. Also, hard not to know beforehand that the cast is exceptional and that it's getting relatively high ratings and strong reviews. Still, other than that, didn't really want to find out any more! Watching a solid, well-done film like STATE, is like watching a good athlete or an outstanding performer…They all make it look SO EASY!

    Just take an interesting, dynamic story; convert that into a cohesive, believable sounding screenplay; do your casting well, so you get a cast that can breathe life into the characters; craft the music to heighten the mood/ambiance at hand; edit the scenes for maximum impact and always know where you're going and be sure you take the movie in the direction of your vision! Easy-Peasy…Japanesey! Those are some of STATE's pluses.

    Like any movie it did have some minuses. I'll try and go over both. A powerhouse cast, that doesn't disappoint: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman, and Jeff Daniels… WOW! Did the A-list want IN on this project, or what?!? Although Crowe does a fine job, he falls a little short of true excellence. A difficult task, attempting to shine when surrounded by ALL that talent! One surprise: Ben Affleck, not exactly on my favorite "actors" list, turns in a deviously devilish performance as the congressman who is keenly aware of his media image and how to protect it.

    But the big jaw-dropper here is Jason Bateman. His characterization fooled me completely! Had to wait for the credits to see who he was! His Uber- creepy-bottom-feeder-sleaze-ball was the film's real revelation! STATE falls down a bit because it is very light in the new and original Department. Still, it is a very well-crafted, entertaining movie! How's this for a chillingly ironic 10 year Date of authoring this review? SEP/11/11 --


    Any comments, questions or observations, in English o en Español, are most welcome!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    State of Play is a good thriller that cleverly (whether intentionally or not) plays on a very strong view expectation. Everyone who goes to the movies knows that Hollywood always despises big business and usually despises the military and generally makes them the villain. When there is a murder and a big corporation is featured in the movie, the audience it automatically going make the connection. This makes the surprise ending quite effective because they are not behind the murders after all. The audience it genuinely surprised, and that doesn't happen too often.

    I am likely in the minority who prefer this movie to the original miniseries. The BBC version was far too complicated, had far too many plot lines and far too many characters, even for 5-6 hours of running time. The movie running at 2 hours time simplified the plot, and eliminated unnecessary characters and scenes. Scenes of many secondary characters like the Collins's secretary, the policemen, most of newspaper staffers, Foy, and Baker's roommate are reduced or eliminated with no loss at all. Eliminating the romance with Collins's wife was a good move, as it wasn't the slightest bit believable in the series. Neither was the plot twist of having the government know that Sonja Baker was a spy, right from the start. The movie wisely eliminated this as well. I missed Bill Nighy, but Russell Crowe was a big improvement over John Simm.

    Perhaps most importantly, the BBC series blundered badly by killing off the hit-man in the middle of the series. He was the main source of tension and the key to the suspense. The movie wisely keeps him in play until the very end. This gives the movie a big edge overall.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I had heard State of Play, from a number of critics, would be one of those movies that started out good, had a strong first half, and then started turning predictable and whatnot in the 2nd. Turns out it's not quite like that. State of Play is consistently good, has gripping parts and some very good performances, until it suddenly undoes its own highly cooked conspiracy-thriller intentions for one of those twist-endings that takes things back a notch. And it's not a good twist- not so much because of how the scene is written, the final confrontation between the characters, but because it deflates the rest of the paranoid drama and suspense that's been building up to it.

    State of Play is not without some other curious things to it, such as Russell Crowe playing the grizzled old veteran reporter who may also have the kind of skills that should make him Sherlock Holmes's understudy - or competition. In the film his character practically makes the police obsolete as he takes it upon himself to investigate what is behind the suicide(?) of an assistant to the congressman played by Ben Affleck who is also an old college roommate of his. Rachel McAdams' character has to keep up at times, breathlessly and sometimes with protest, with Cal's methods of inquiry and extracting info.

    And yet, I could buy into a lot of it, partly because of Crowe's performance, as usual with some good gravitas and weight and with the measure of experience he's had as an actor. and partly because it keeps the suspense and the will-he-or-won't-he aspect of the deadline for the paper. Up until those final ten minutes when that twist (not to spoil too much but it is a Keyser Soze bit as other critics have inferred), the filmmakers keep us interested in the events because of us being so invested with Crowe and McAdams tracking down a case that balloons to include defense contractors, the media, and lord knows what else.

    Again, performances make the difference, and at the least State of Play's director (of Last Kind of Scotland fame) knows how to corral right actors for just the right parts. He gets Crowe and McAdams well paired, and Helen Mirren as the headstrong but lenient editor in chief, and especially from Affleck who can bring on a sense of truth even when he's lying to our faces- perfect for a politician. Jason Bateman, by the way, steals his scenes as a PR guy who talks and talks big and flamboyantly until he has to crack under pressure. Even the guy who played the undercover black-op style killer was perfectly cast.

    The big problem then, aside from the twist ending, is that everything in the film, for all of its fine moments of storytelling, does feel the crunch of being adapted from a 5 hour mini-series. While not seen by me, I can tell that there is likely more room for subject matter to breathe, for the audience to digest a lot of this information. As with Watchmen, what they cut out probably worked for the feature film, but only up to a point. As in any story, in journalism or film, the details do stack up. All of the (very) impressive tricks with having cameras in the scenes shooting from far away and at different and opposing angles meant to create tension can't quite surmount this crunch. It's a good film that at times tries a little too much to be more important that it is.
  • So I gave this movie a 10, but that's coming from a thriller fan. With most thrillers, this movie has it's faults. Some exaggeration, implausibilities, annoying twists, but the film transcends other thrillers on all other levels. Even with the overly dramatic plot and scenarios, I felt this film was a very realistic portrayal of journalism and posed an interesting argument between old fashioned print journalism and the new age of the internet. Of course, for the "thrills" they'll have to make some cliché twists, but it goes beyond the generic nonsense thriller to making a mild statement about the media today. In addition, the cast was fantastic. I couldn't be more relieved that Russell Crowe took over Brad Pitt's role, Pitt would have been a terrible choice. Russell was a much better fit for Cal. However, I kind of wish Edward Norton remained with the role of Senator Collins... Affleck and Crowe didn't have the greatest chemistry. However the many supporting players were fantastic. Rachel McAdams did a fine job. Not exactly the meatiest role but she played the revised role of Della as a young popular blogger greatly. Rachel brought that playful naivety but at the same time made Della intelligent and respectable. Helen Mirren was perfect, and perhaps a little underused. There is also a plethora of strong performances from the minor supporting players. Jason Bateman gave my favorite performance out of all of them, Harry Lennix was another who was underutilized, and Robin Wright Penn continues her reputation as one of the most consistent supporting actresses.

    But as a thriller, it really was a fantastic and entertaining movie. I've never seen the BBC series and could only imagine how much better it could be with more time to develop characters and stories, but the film does the best it could and that's enough. It isn't your typical mindless thriller though, which is what I respect about it most. It is paced well but if you don't pay attention you may get lost, but seeing as the film really does keep you on your toes, it shouldn't be that hard. What makes this thriller so much better though is that it makes you think, even after leaving the theater. It isn't just some formulaic story with mindless twists and turns, it's actually saying something about the world today that is very relevant, which not only makes a great thriller, but a great film as well.

    I've read some complaints about the ending, but I don't understand what the big deal was. I don't want to give anything away, but I think it's an ending that could be taken in different ways depending on the viewer.
  • Character-wise, this movie doesn't have the complex figures of the best political thrillers. Dialogs are the brightest. Editing is great and the music's appropriate without being too prominent. But those are small quibbles when it comes to one of the most honest major features to come out in a long time. You'll hardly know where the facts end and where the fiction begins, because so much of it, barely obscured by a change of name, is real. As much a fiction this movie is, it may as well be a documentary.

    I watched this in a mostly empty theater on a Sunday night. Americans, they told you so.
  • Cal (Russell Crowe) and Stephen (Ben Affleck) have been buds since their college days. They still stay in touch, but their lives have taken two different paths. Stephen is an up-and-coming politico who has acquired the beautiful wife, Anne (Robin Wright Penn), the spiffy mansion, wealth and prestige. On the flip side, Cal works as a respected but hardly rich reporter for the Washington Globe, where publisher Cameron (Helen Mirren) reigns supreme. One day, as Stephen, who has been investigating the possibly nefarious doings of a Blackwater-type marines-for-hire group, is about to give a press conference, the gallery informs him that one of his committee members, Sonia, has been found dead near the DC subway. Beginning to cry, Stephen stumbles out of the press talk in a daze. That's because, it seems, red-haired, pretty Sonia was having an extra-marital thing with Stevie. Cal and fellow reporter, Della (Rachel McAdams) begin to investigate the case and also the death of two other gentlemen in the region whose demises may be connected. But, will the personal relationship and past that Cal has with both Stephen and Anne get in the way of the search for truth, especially when it comes to the billions of funds made by the "hired guns" Stephen was trying to explore? This is a top-notch thriller which may put fans of the genre into a state of euphoria. The script is flat-out terrific, based on a British miniseries, especially in its uncanny skill in blending a great deal of humor amid the chills and thrills. Likewise, the cast is most wonderful, with Crowe, McAdams, Affleck, Mirren, Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels, Penn, and many others delivering strong, strong performances. Special words of praise should go to Crowe, for his head-turning but carefully nuanced role as a man caught in the middle. As for the movie's production, the sets, costumes, camera work and direction are nearly flawless, except for a ruffled blouse that some fashion diva thought would enhance McAdams' look but which hits 100 on the hideous meter. But, that's small peanuts, as they say. All in all, if you love thrillers, especially ones that include the juicy realms of politics and secret government operatives, you would be wise to head to the nearest theater and fork over some cash for this one. It is a definitely one fertile "playground" for the cinematic enthusiast.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    For those who saw the original BBC UK TV " State of Play " you will wonder how they could have made such a listless 2d version of a great plot line. Afleck is very good the best I've seen him act for years. Crowe is well, ordinary, his character, a grumpy, scruffy, almost unhygienic journalist is very one pace. The newspapers editor played by Helen Mirren is likewise played on one note , that of your tough mainly shouting Brit . The female sidekick of Crowes' is a token role inserted to try to involve the female viewer I guess , which is a shame as she wastes screen time which didn't allow what should have been the main female lead i.e. the wronged politicians wife to shine thru' as it did in the BBC version. In this adaptation her part was by passed with hints to an affair with Crowe, an unhappy marriage etc but absolutely nothing was fleshed out , so you cared little for her situation in all of this murder and intrigue. The at times slack pace of the movie was proved to me as the director constantly intercut scenes with those of a mysterious helicopter scanning the skies of Washington , a very amateur attempt at trying to create tension which isn't necessary in a truly thrilling movie and wasn't needed in the original The two glaring no-nos though were in plot lines which to me showed either lazy scriptwriting or masses of footage on the cutting room floor . In the hospital scene , where the female reporter bumps into the killer on the third floor as she emerges from the elevator. She proceeds to walk a few paces into the treatment room , within seconds a snipers rifle kills the would be witness. Now hang on , the same guy she has just passed has within ten paces of her walking, he has descended three floors, left the hospital , crossed the street , gone into another building, ascended at least four floors into a convenient room and fired his weapon to kill the guy , mmmmm OK suspend disbelief ( and time)

    But then towards the climax of the whole two hours plus, Crowe suddenly realises the true nature of events and without speaking , crosses Washington to confront Afleck . As he leaves him amazingly this same killer is waiting for Crowe outside Afleck's office !!. So now the killer is a clairvoyant as well as moves at super speed . This makes no sense and unfortunately my suspension was now too tired to shift my disbelief . Sloppy , sloppy plot .

    After transatlantic copies like this you can understand why film fans groan when they hear Hollywood is to make their version of a loved play/film. My advice , either get the original and enjoy the real thing or don't get the original , see this copy and miss a great tale, well told, your choice .
  • The beginning was so fast and powerful that U didn't realize that this movie haven't the begin credits! If you like mysterious thriller you will surely like it! the U turn of ending is so unpredictable... But I think the storyline had some problems in the middle of it, and it was a little tediously lengthy. Kevin Macdonald directed 17 movies. "The Last King of Scotland (2006)", Again a thriller and also a Historic drama, Just like "state of play". Another is "The Eagle (2010)", I didn't watched it. But all the other 14 movies are documentaries (TV's, short videos). But the none-documentary movies are documentaries in some kinda ways and its not bad. Somewhat entertaining movies and yet eminently State of Play is worth a look. Just do not expect that good a time.
  • When an assistant to important US Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) dies in which initially appears to be a calamitous accident on the tube of Washington D.C. , two print journalists named Cal McCraffey( Russell Crowe ) well related to Congressmen and Della Frye( Rachel McAdams) an expert on gossips , society news from the Washington Globe newspaper are assigned by their chief (Helen Mirren) to discover when they obtain news that it may not have been a deadly accident. The dead young was the Congressman's aid in hearings dealing with domestic security firm called Pointcorp supplementing the utilization of US Armed Forces around the world and especially in Irak and Afghanistan . The newspapers have just published this piece of news : ¨The shocking truth , Congressman scandal sex , die for love , rumors about death by suicide , Senator cries assistant's death , Congressman implicated murders ¨ . The two reporters have contrasting styles : Cal is a traditional reporter who uses his contacts with the police department Inspector (Harry Lennix) to attain his news while Frye utilizes new media such as Internet , blogging and page web to obtain her information out to the public quickly and as Della writes in her bloc : ¨A crying shame¨ about the dead woman and Congressman's lover . As they delve into the objective of big companies might play in private security , McCaffrey also realizes they have all been deceived into making one intelligent , but fake , assumption . The tracks lead to ¨Medal of Freedom Iniciative ¨ . In a seafood market McCaffrey contacts a member of Pointcorp , a powerful organization of private sector security Inc . Meantime they discover a corruption plot that affects to heart of US politic system .

    This thrilling film contains suspense , thriller, intrigue an a lot of turns and twists . It's full of tension and developing a relentless criticism to mass-media and privatization of state security my means of ambitious companies as Pointcorp and Mediacorp , among others . Very good main cast formed by all star cast as Russell Crowe , Helen Mirren and Rachel McAdams . They are complemented by an efficient support casting as the corrupt senator Jeff Daniels , the Stephen Collins's wife Robin Wright , Barry Shabaka , Josh Mostel, Viola Davis and special mention to Jason Bateman as drugged sponger . The motion picture is well realized by Kevin McDonald who previously directed ¨The last king of Scotland¨ in which Forest Whitaker won an Academy Award . Kevin McDonald is a good writer , producer and director and expert on documentary such as he proved in ¨Enemy's enemy ¨, ¨Touching the void¨ , ¨Donald Cammell: the ultimate performance ¨ and several others . Rating : Better than average . Worthwhile seeing .
  • The plot is thin, and doesn't really hold up under scrutiny, and yet I'd guess lots of people will love this movie. I did not, and my problem goes beyond plot. My problem was with the casting.

    I love Helen Mirren. She always does a good job, and this film is no exception. I also love Russell Crowe, and as usual, he does alright, given what he has to work with. It's not his fault that his character is a complete caricature of a reporter. Robin Wright Penn also does alright with her role, which is very limited and one-dimensional. And then there's Ben Affleck, who should probably just give up acting altogether. He's exceptionally bad in this movie. But my biggest gripe with this movie is in casting Rachel McAdams as the cub reporter. Why does the cub reporter have to be a beautiful young woman? Russell Crowe has just turned 45 and looks it; it's one of many things I like about him. It's clear that he doesn't work out; he hasn't had his teeth whitened; his character is a slob, with both his desk and his apartment giving ample evidence of his disorganization...and yet he's a good reporter, and a good guy to boot. In other words, HUMAN and of course Hollywood decided to cast opposite him Rachel McAdams, who could grace the cover of any number of fashion magazines, were she so inclined, and who is 15 years his junior in real life but looks even younger; I didn't get the impression that her character was supposed to be 30. Would it work the other way around? Would George Clooney or Brad Pitt, all gussied up for the cover of GQ, and with an appropriately slick apartment, be believable as a hard hitting investigative reporter? I don't think so, and someone in casting didn't think so either; thus we have Russell Crowe, playing a slob, in the lead. So if the male lead must be gritty, why does Hollywood think the counterpart must be a beautiful, perfectly groomed young woman? I like Rachel McAdams and think she's a competent actress, but she simply wasn't believable in this role. There must be young actresses out there who just look like regular people. Why not cast one of them? For that matter, why does the cub reporter have to be young? Why couldn't she be any age, but new at reporting? This might have been a better film if the cub reporter had been a plain woman of any age trying to find her way working with Crowe and Mirren and their experience. I think that would have made this a much more interesting movie, and it's a movie that might actually be made somewhere, but not in Hollywood.
  • Russell Crowe is starting to look so crumpled and weatherbeaten that you can't help thinking it won't be long before the leading man roles start passing him by. His face almost seems to be folding in on itself, and he therefore makes a rather unlikely hero. He plays Cal McAffrey, a reporter for the Washington Post, whose friend, senator Ben Affleck (no, really!) finds himself in the middle of a media frenzy when a pretty young aide he's been having an affair with falls in front of a train.

    The girl's death is the start of an involved plot that serves up a fresh twist every fifteen minutes or so. Although the film was involving enough and never became boring it seemed to me to be much longer than it actually was and, as I'm quite patient when it comes to slow films, I imagine many people would find it a bit of a plod. The cast is fairly good, though. The irascible editor isn't played by a cigar-chewing middle-aged curmudgeon but comes in the slinky form of Helen Mirren, who continues to withstand the rigours of time with admirable fortitude.

    For all it's twists and turns the plot is mostly formulaic, but it's professionally put together so that you forget at times you're watching the kind of political thriller you've seen many times before. There's no romance in the film – apart form the illicit one between the girl and the Senator (which is over soon after the film begins), and repeated references to another affair that would probably count as a spoiler if I related it here – and the reason is probably because the idea of shaggy old Crowe and lithe young Rachel McAdams going at it is a little too far-fetched to be believable.
  • A remake of a British mini-series seems like a doubtful proposition,starting by the arrogant narrative decision of extirpating the story off London,to set it in Washington.What is more,the cast of solid character actors from the mini-series have been replaced by Hollywood stars who will undoubtedly attract more spectators,but at the same time,steal the atmosphere of anonymous intrigue.Having said that,I have to admit that the six hours from the mini-series were a little bit tiring to me,specially when the story turns its attention to the personal lives from the people who were involved on the political scandal.So,I had some hope that a certain grade of condensation in the story would result on a more interesting movie,with a better rhythm and enough deepness.In the film State of Play,co-screenwriters Tony Gilroy,Matthew Michael Carnahan and Billy Ray condensed the story,although they made it to loose some honesty and deepness.But now,I will stop comparing this movie to the original mini-series,and I will evaluate it by its own merits.And also using that judgment,I found State of Play to be a mediocre movie.On some aspects,this film tries to emulate the atmosphere from All the President's Men,with its combination of political intrigue and conflicts of conscience between reporters who have good intentions,but who have a doubtful ethic on their methods.I also detected some small tributes to the extraordinary JFK.However,the biggest influence from this movie is on the recent wave of similar political thrillers which denounce some aspects of the terrorism on the Middle East,or the war for the oil.But,in spite of its good intention,State of Play suffers from anachronism.It is true that the subjects which are examined on this movie will keep being relevant for years (maybe decades)...but they were more interesting to the general spectator five or six years ago (like when the original mini-series was released).Nowadays,with more urgent preoccupations in the global conscience,the lies from a North American company are less relevant than the virus which are floating on the air or the labour insecurity occasioned by the worldwide economical collapse.Movies should start to define new villains who are more appropriate for the worldwide situation (like in the movie The International),because if not,it will be difficult to wake up the spectator's imagination with tiring comments about a war whose revocation has expired,not on the real life,but on the short attention from the public opinion.It may not be fair to evaluate a movie for the historical context which rounds it,but I mentioned it because that was my perception when I was watching it.On the screenplay from this film,there are various elements which feel very forced.On State of Play,there are not any bad performances; everybody has an adequate development on their roles.But,I could not find passion on any of the actors...the only thing I saw on them was technique.I think that happened because director Kevin MacDonald's work lacks of energy and enthusiasm.I also feel this movie should have had more suspense,instead of a warm parade of scenes and situations which are connected by an old narrative formula (brave reporters looking for the truth),and not by the stimulating discovery of hidden connexions and scandalous secrets.In summary,there are too many coincidences,too many characters with a doubtful narrative value and too many redundant scenes which repeat what we already know...I think all this is a consequence to the previously mentioned condensation of the series.Instead of all my complains,I did not dislike State of Play.I cannot deny it kept me moderately entertained and that,near the ending,the film generates a good level of tension.But,the final experience I had with this movie was mediocre and completely forgettable.I think I can give a slight recommendation to this movie for the fact that it is not boring.
  • winner556 July 2009
    State of Play is almost as bad as people say it is.After being led on a particular direction for some 110 minutes, we are suddenly thrown for a loop that reduces the tension of the story we thought we were watching to the tawdry dimensions of a sex scandal burdened by a overly zealous psycho-killer - ho hum.

    This might be forgivable were the main text really all that tension-filled - but it isn't. In fact the pacing is terrible, and the movement from scene to scene difficult to follow, until it at last sinks in that the scenes are never going to really add up to anything like an interesting whole. It's not simply that threads are left dangling - they were never intended to be tied together in the first place. The whole film stinks of red herring - or more accurately, dead herring.

    Meanwhile, clichés abound, unrelieved by any new insight or point of view.

    As for the visual jokes in the background - like the poster of the blonde seen through a window with a ketchup stain so she looks shot through the head, or the fact that the Crowe character is dressed to remind us of the detective he played in American Gangster, while the black detective is as dapper as the Denzel Washington character in that much better film - oh, please - these were just annoying and pointless.

    Finally, in a film that should have been about the lack of accountability that plagues both our political system and our media, the final notice of the film is the film-makers' own denial of responsibility, an unwillingness to take a final stand on any of the issues it presents.

    A truly cowardly and depressing piece of film.
  • This was a bit of a surprise hit for me as I'm not usually one for the political thrillers or Russell Crow but the well thought out, slowly unravelling (and clever) story hooked me.

    Lots of twists I didn't see coming as a Washington D.C congressman (Affleck) and a reporter (Crowe) become locked on a dangerous collision course when the journalist starts investigating a case involving the murder of a congressional aide and his old college friend. Conspiracy theories, corporate cover-ups, informants and billions of dollars are about to be uncovered.

    I enjoyed Crow in this toned down role along with his ambitious protégé Rachel McAdams. Ben Affleck does a decent job too. Actually the entire cast was fantastic, including Robin Wright, Helen Mirren, Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels, Viola Davis. I couldn't single out any one great performance. A well thought out thriller. 06.13 (2)
  • State of Play starts out as a mystery. The main character, Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), is a reporter for the Washington Globe. For years he has been friends with Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), a politician who is making his mark in D.C. by serving on a committee that is investigating the Department of Defense regarding the way they hand out contracts.

    When one of the congressman's staffers is killed in a subway accident, that story casts a shadow over the politician, leading--in a domino effect--to repercussions on his activities, the congressional investigation, his marriage, and his relationship with McAffrey.

    As McAffrey is drawn into the story, he must analyze his relationship with Collins and his wife. Accompanied by cub reporter Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), he is drawn deeper into the mystery as murders occur and deadlines impend.

    The film's very real story gains further authenticity by the fact that 1/3 of the film was shot in D.C. The newspaper set built in California is amazing. All of the actors performed well. Watch for Jason Bateman as a sleazy guy who helps connect the dots, and Helen Mirren as the tough, pragmatic newspaper chief.

    In the end, dollars drive this drama. It's a cautionary tale for all Americans who see greed driving the government, with corruption a necessary consequence.
  • Having previously enjoyed the director's last film The Last King of Scotland, I was interested in seeing State of Play. While it was good in places, the overall film does not live the director's last film due to several reasons.

    State of Play has a strong cast that includes Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck, both of whom are really good but the script doesn't always allow for them to really shine. Even though Russell Crowe is good, there is sense of connection to his character and that is the same for Rachel McAdams' character. Helen Mirren gives a solid performance, as does Ben Affleck while Jason Bateman nearly steels the entire film as a sleazy PR man.

    The story does progress at a steady pace but without any connection for the characters it is difficult to care. There is a sub-plot with Russell Crowes character who had an affair with his best friends wife but it never becomes interesting and feels like a poor effort to add character depth.

    There were a couple of scenes that were interesting and the underlying theme of how the internet will eventually kill off the newspaper adds some weight to the story. One scene sees Russell Crowe hiding in an underground car park and it is very tense but once the film has ended, you will soon forget about it.

    The film does have an audience in-mind but for everyone else there is no real reason to see this unless you are a fan of the director's previous films. A solid effort as a political thriller but not a must see.
  • Good thriller with some excellent performances. Russell Crowe is suitably grizzled as the been around reporter and Helen Mirren is wonderfully tough as his editor, the problem is the casting of Ben Affleck. He gives a good enough performance but is far too young to be believable as Crowe's college roommate or Robin Wright Penn's husband, not his fault but a major casting error nonetheless. Originally Crowe and Affleck's parts were to be filled by Brad Pitt and Edward Norton a far more simpatico pairing the obvious disparity in the leads ages distracts throughout the film. Jason Bateman shows up late in the movie to offer up a fun, out there performance as a sleaze. The story itself does move along and offers some nice tension and twists.
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