Films about government conspiracy have run rampant as of late, and exhausted audiences often dread seeing the same actors play the same parts over and over. When a movie is able to break the mold and make this tired concept work in a new and interesting way, audiences rejoice with this breath of fresh air.
State of Play, a film directed by Ben MacDonald (the director of the award-winning film The Last King of Scotland), is that revitalizing look at the way in which the predictable films of this genre could work. That’s probably the reason why acclaimed actors Helen Mirren and Russell Crowe, as well as Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn and Ben Affleck, clamored to be a part of it.
State of Play is a convoluted story of suspense and intrigue with a star-studded cast and an intense and captivating form of direction. For a relatively long film (about 127 minutes), State of Play is edge-of-your-seat entertaining.
The focal point of the movie stays unceasingly fixed on Russell Crowe who performs to perfection while the circumstances surrounding him are constantly changing as the truth is gradually unearthed. Based on the British television mini-series of the same name, State of Play follows a reporter for the Washington globe named Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), who begins to investigate a double homicide. These murders are seemingly unrelated to the death of the mistress of a politician (portrayed by Ben Affleck) until the fast-paced and thrilling revelation of several pieces that fit perfectly into the puzzle of the plot.
Not only is it a political conspiracy thriller, State of Play also provides social commentary concerning the state of journalism today and the battle between online and print media as Russell Crowe’s character clashes with blogger, Della Frye (played by Rachel McAdams).
One of the most notable parts of the film was the minor yet crucial role played by Jason Bateman, the star of the popular television series Arrested Development. Jason Bateman plays a drugged out Public Relations representative who inadvertently becomes implicated in this web of murders and lies. He plays a very volatile character within the film, sparking much of the drama and violence that ensues after his short yet entertaining on-screen appearance.
This is the kind of film that requires interest and attention throughout. State of Play doesn’t allow for time to breathe between the twists and turns of the complicated plot.
Although State of Play can be characterized as erratic at points, the film is an honest change from the norm of extensive, drawn-out suspense thrillers where speculation is far more present than action. This film actually presents a plot with an overload of information and intrigue.
The roles are well performed and the movie is well directed. If you’re in the mood for a cinematic change of pace, State of Play is worth a once-over.