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State of Play movie poster

State of Play

Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Directed by:
Kevin Macdonald
Starring: Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman, Helen Mirren

Released by: Warner Bros. Pictures

In Short: A cadre of crack actors combines with a well-structured plot and fast-moving action into a winner of a political thriller.
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A Fine State
Political Thriller Hits Home

It's a winning combination of political brew and exciting action that the new thriller State of Play offers up. Starting with a crackerjack cast headlined by Russell Crowe as an award-winning D.C. reporter and Ben Affleck as a very believable U.S. congressman, and including Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, and Jason Bateman in a scene-stealing role, State of Play is a deft and compelling flick with a plot ripped from the headlines.

Affleck plays Stephen Collins, a crusading congressman out to expose PointCorp, a private military company (think Blackwater) that has been profiteering off the Iraq War. When his lead researcher and two others are murdered just as Congress is beginning an investigation of the company, his reporter friend Cal McAffrey (Crowe) begins to connect the dots.

Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams and Russell Crowe Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe

The result is a fast-paced thriller with numerous twists and turns, as well as a timely subplot that spotlights the current decline of American newspapers. Rachel McAdams shines as a young reporter who learns the ropes from McAffrey, and Helen Mirren is perfect as the paper's hard-nosed editor trying to deal with the financial realities of the times while still getting the story. And Jason Bateman really is grand as a scummy PR agent who somehow has gotten himself caught in the middle of the murders, much to his chagrin. He’s so good you may not even realize it is him!

State of Play is a film that hearkens back to All the President's Men. Although it follows a fictional storyline—unlike the other reality-based classic—its smart, well-structured plot is completely believable, even right down to the final twist that some may find a bit over the top. And, if it all seems somehow familiar (especially if you are a BBC-TV junkie), you may recognize it as a remake of the award-winning, six-part British television series from 2003 of the same name.


(Updated: 04/17/09 ET)

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