Friday, April 24, 2009

Movie Review: State of Play

A petty thief is gunned down in an alley and a Congressman's assistant falls in front of a subway - two seemingly unrelated deaths. But not to wisecracking, brash newspaper reporter Cal McAffrey who spies a conspiracy waiting to be uncovered. With a turbulent past connected to the Congressman and the aid of ambitious young rookie writer Della Frye, Cal begins uprooting clues that lead him to a corporate cover-up full of insiders, informants, and assassins. But as he draws closer to the truth, the relentless journalist must decide if it's worth risking his life and selling his soul to get the ultimate story. Summary from Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

It's both complicated and engaging, with great acting and a believeable plot.

Russell Crowe headlines as Cal McAffrey, the overworked, old-school journalist contrasts with Rachel McAdams' eager-beaver blogger-turned-serious-reporter Della Frye nicely, their constant squabbling adding to much of the film's dry humor--but make no mistake, their isn't any of that 'love connection' shit that one might see in lesser films. Ben Affleck performs surprisingly well as young senator and former college roommate of McAffrey, Stephen Collins, who, in the beginning of the movie, breaks into tears during a televised conference, seemingly minutes after finding out about the 'accidental' death of his head researcher and mistress (Maria Thayer, in what would've been called a crucial cameo if she had been a bigger star--regardless, since I've recently seen Accepted, it was a cameo to me). I, not being used to seeing Affleck in anything terribly good in years, was surprised to see him holding his own against Academy golden kids Crowe and Helen Mirren--naturally fantastic as world-weary editor to the drowning Washingtin newspaper. McAdams, as the naive representative of the new and improved news world, gives a believable, determined, and strangely sentimental performance. Michael Berresse plays a sociopathic assassin who owes his life to Collins, setting in motion the events of the movie. But perhaps the most shocking turn is Jason Bateman as a bisexual club promoter, in what actually is an extended cameo.

The plot is intriguing and well-paced, as fueled by these excellent performences, with an appropriate amount of twists. Based off the 2003 six-part BBC miniseries of the same name which I have not seen, I'm going to assume it lives up to it's founder's standards. The end is slightly under-played in an abrupt reveal and shootout with only a computer screen to tell the viewer the aftermath, but this can easily be ignored.

Rating: 9

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