State of Play

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/04/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 125 mins

Enjoyable, well written and sharply paced thriller with fantastic performances from Crowe, Mirren, McAdams and yes, even Affleck.

What's it all about?
Based on the acclaimed British TV series of the same name, State of Play stars Russell Crowe as Cal McAffrey, a brash Washington newspaper reporter whose no-nonsense editor Cameron Lynne (Helen Mirren) assigns him to cover the mysterious death of a political researcher because of his once close friendship with the victim's boss, rising star congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck). However, when Cal thinks he can connect the death to a seemingly unrelated murder, he begins to smell conspiracy in the air, especially when it turns out that the victim was Collins' mistress.

Teaming up with rookie writer Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), Cal digs deeper and soon unearths a corporate cover-up involving assassins, government insiders and blackmail that could put his and Della's lives in danger. Meanwhile, Cal struggles with his reawakened feelings for Collins' wife Anne (Robin Wright Penn), with whom he has an equally complex history.

The Good
It's been a while since Hollywood delivered a decent political thriller, but State of Play ticks all the right boxes; the script is both intelligent and timely, while the screenplay does an excellent job of condensing a four hour TV series into a two hour movie without any notable losses. Similarly, Macdonald maintains a decent pace and orchestrates several suspenseful sequences, including a particularly good scene set in that staple venue of political thrillers, the underground car park.

The Great
Crowe is excellent, at least once you get past the fact that he's apparently decided to model his look on Justin Lee Collins. Floppy blonde locks aside, he has great chemistry with both McAdams and Penn, while there's strong support from Affleck (giving his best performance since Good Will Hunting), the always-excellent Mirren (in the Bill Nighy role) and a superbly slimy Jason Bateman as PR fixer Dominic Foy.

Worth seeing?
This is an enjoyable, well made and intelligent political thriller of the kind that Hollywood really ought to be churning out more often. Recommended.

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State of Play
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Content updated: 09/12/2019 17:23

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