State of Play

Film, Thrillers
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State of Play
Paul Abbott’s widely admired London-set BBC political thriller series may have taken a mere six years to receive a Hollywood makeover, but it seems to have aged at least 30 in the process.
For a start, its star Russell Crowe’s interpretation of Cal McAffrey would look at home among the insouciant, long-haired mavericks of the 1970s. He’s the scruffy Washington Globe reporter whose relationship with school chum and ambitious congressman Ben Affleck becomes complicated as the latter becomes implicated in two hitherto unconnected murders.

Likewise, its director, the Brit Kevin Macdonald (‘The Last King of Scotland’), is more occupied with self-consciously reviving the paranoid newsdesk atmosphere of a number of ’70s conspiracy movies than with developing the script’s intriguing play on present-day credit-crunch anxieties and online/old-school hack rivalries.

That said, and despite the clichéd nature of much of the dialogue and the derivative thriller set-ups, ‘State of Play’ provides sufficient old-fashioned entertainment value to justify the ticket. It plays well as a newspaper movie, with some nice banter – including some enjoyably sharp jibes at the blogosphere – between the hardened professional ethics of McAffrey and the politically correct protestations of his ingénue hack partner Della Frye (a perky Rachel McAdams). Helen Mirren provides a ripe turn as a profane version of Tina Brown, and the ever radiant Robin Wright Penn makes a seductive McGuffin (or is she?). Macdonald’s handling of the material is confident,
if never inspired, and the film is ably shot by the talented Mexican DoP Rodrigo Prieto in widescreen.

By: Wally Hammond


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday April 24 2009
Duration: 127 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Kevin Macdonald
Screenwriter: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy, Billy Ray
Cast: Russell Crowe
Rachel McAdams
Ben Affleck
Robin Wright Penn
Jason Bateman
Viola Davis
Jeff Daniels
Helen Mirren
Harry Lennix
Barry Shabaka Henley
David Harbour

Average User Rating

3.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:0
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This film starts well, promises much, but labours in the middle looses its way and limps to a predictable if not rushed end. Ben affleck is 20 years younger than his childhood sweetheart wife, russel Crowe does a chubby investigative journalist well, but come the end you feel nothing for any of the characters I can almost imagine Russel turning round at the end and saying in a broud Australian accent " IS THAT IT", unrewarding, forgettable. shame

I found the film to be utterly deflating. Having seen the brilliant tv series i was thoroughly looking forward to the film. The biggest disappointment for me was Mirrens depiction of the character wonderfully portrayed by the ever excellent Bill Nighy.

I worked for 41 years in newspaper offices and this film struck me as authentic. I particularly liked Mirren's description of the young blogger as being cheap and producing loads of copy. How manytimes have I heard that? This is a quality film with Crowe in cracking form and the director moving things along at pace. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Worth going to see. Crowe excellent in the role. Mirren suits it too. Keeps attention throughout

I enjoyed the TV version of the story and wondered how it would translate to a US settling and into a shortened version. I also wondered whether I would be gripped as I already knew who the bad guys were. I need not have worried. It was a geat story and this movie more than does it justice.

Crowe totally inhabits his character as you'd expect, but the newsroom scenes feel a bit cliched (the Wire did it better). 6 stars for Russell's acting ******

Crowe is very good in this film. Unfortunately the other main leads - Mirren and McAdams are totally miscast. The man from the "Orange Wednesdays" is more convincing than these two. The film rocks at certain points and sometimes it rolls. But it never rock and rolls at the same time. Shame really, cos I quite liked it.

an absolutely predictable predicament -where you know the final twist after the first ten minutes and pray you are wrong but then hollywood rarely disappoints you when it comes to it's cliche ridden ,illogical political conspiracy thrillers which seem to be getting more banal and smothered in moralist muddle just like the confused portrayal of a newspaper editor by helen mirren who provides one of the worst caricatures of a high profile ,quizzical and abusive news paper head trying to mimic judi dench in a really odious turn and CROWE is really hialriously bad as a dustin hoffman spoof from POLLACK'S ALL THE PRESIDENT MEN - i wish they had conceived a basic plot before casting the whole absurdist cospiracy cacophony which fails to entertain or educate in any way despite it's hugely ambitious cast and credits -AVOID this STATE OF ART ATROCITY FROM AMERICA

What a desperate disappointment considering the heritage of the subject and the great tv series. Weak direction and a very poor script which would have been unlikely to pass through the creative portals of the better script editing departments of the major US television networks, whose best work this very weak film illuminates. Tosh.