Film Review: State Of Play

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Sam Bathe on 17 Apr 2009

Everyone loves a conspiracy. From whether America did ever land on the Moon, so theories 9/11 was carried out by the US Goverment, if their hearts so desire, millions of people across the world will jump onto any bandwagon no matter how believable or ridiculous.

After the death of research assistant Sonia Baker (Thayer), lead investigator on Congressman Stephen Collins’ (Affleck) inquest into private military contractor PointCorp, reporter Cal McAffrey (Crowe) takes on the job of covering what seems at first, to be a clear cut case. With the help of newspaper blogger Della Frye (McAdams), as further deaths soon crop up, the pair uncover a trail of deceit into the higher echelons of government than they had ever expected, and work to expose a conspiracy dismissed by the police, as their findings conspire to all but attempt collapse in their hands.

On the fact of it an intelligent thriller about bringing down a widespread conspiracy, under the surface, State Of Play is as much a piece to stress the importance of the newspaper in the digital age. With the police always one step behind, albeit after McAffrey withholds evidence on several occasions, State Of Play stresses the importance of print media and traditional investigative journalists, and how they can expose wrong doing missed by law enforcement. The added twist makes for a superb side story and complements perfectly, the original plot arc of the award winning BBC series upon which the film was based.

With the original series running over six hour-long episodes, to cram the complicated plot into a two-hour film would always mean cutting corners, but the narrative still holds strong and unlike some intelligent thrillers, you won’t be required to make notes along the way to keep up with the story. State Of Play is excellently put together and edited with precision and intelligence before the fitting twists and turns towards the end.

While a lot of people dislike the two male leads, Crowe for his often juvenile behaviour and Affleck for a series of wooden performances in sub-standard film, here the pair are exemplary, and coupled with his directorial debut last with Gone Baby Gone, announces a triumphant return to form for Affleck. Crowe in turn makes the role his own, looking suitably scruffy and making Brad Pitt’s drop-out a surprising relief.

At last, State Of Play is an example of a Hollywood refresh that not only stand up to the source, but builds upon it.

★★★★

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