Surprise, surprise a decent film released this early in the year. Usually we have to suffer through below par films until the fall, at least. I will admit to being a little trepidatious going into the film as Russell Crowe has not been in a good film for a bit and Ben Affleck has just not acted very much lately. And I did not know if director Kevin Mcdonald (The Last King of Scotland) could recreate the magic of his last film. But to teach this doubting Thomas a lesson, the film was fantastic. I had a knot in my stomach from about 10 minutes into the film that did not leave until the end. A thriller that actually thrilled.
Veteran Washington Globe journalist Cal McAffery (Russell Crowe – Body of Lies, A Beautiful Mind) is working on what he thinks to be an average double homicide piece when he begins to realize that the two deaths are related to his friend, Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck – He's Just Not That Into You, Pearl Harbor).
A story breaks, with the help of rookie Washington Globe journalist Della Frye (Rachel McAdams – The Notebook, Red Eye), that the mistress of Congressman Stephen Collins, Sonia Baker (Maria Thayer – Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Hitch), has committed suicide. The scandal is all over the papers. This occurs at the same time Congressman Collins is heading an investigation panel into a military-based company called Pointcorps.
McAffery and Collins were roommates and friends during college. Frye is on the story, but due to his personal ties to it McAffery tries to get to the bottom of the truth of what's going on.
"State of Play" is actually based on a great BBC television series and the film version certainly does it justice. It starts off with a fairly simply story. You think you understand it and know everything that is going to happen next. But then so many twists and turns pop up that it becomes complex and riveting. It is intense enough to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. Mcdonald knows how far he can go without it becoming too much.
Besides being well-written and directed, the acting by the main folks – Affleck, Crowe and McAdams, is all great with the wonderful Helen Mirren chewing up scenery in the few scenes she is given. It was nice seeing Robin Wright Penn onscreen again, but she doesn't have the largest of roles and Jason Bateman should be applauded for playing a character that is just so out there.
Director Kevin Mcdonald has succeeded in making a film along the lines of "All the President's Men". The political/newspaper thriller is not something that we have seen done well in a long while.