State of Play

Working Title

Mark Haddon

"The original had seemed so edgy and contemporary - State of Play was state of the art - but the movie version, while perfectly watchable, could have been made any time in the last 30 years, despite references to blogs."

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, Friday 24 April 2009



I didn't really read much of the back-story to State of Play, or watch any of the BBC drama version prior to watching this film. As such, I can't comment on or compare the characters on the big screen to those on the small (as is done in many reviews). However, I can review what on face-value was a passable Journo-drama with an appropriate amount of political controversy.

The violent shooting of a down-and-out at the beginning of the film kicks the action into gear, with the plot twisting and turning to prove that not all is what it seems (as is so often the case in these drama/thrillers). Russell Crowe plays Cal McAffrey, an investigative journalist at the Washington Globe with a history. He knows the statesman trying to defend the government against the interests of a private defence contractor, which leads his investigation into suspicious contracts and a $40billion deal which would involve those somewhat closer to home than the public are lead to believe.

McAffrey works with a young journalist who is diametrically opposed in her working methods compared to McAffrey - "cheap and produces copy by the hour" as wonderfully stated by Cameron Lynne (the editor of the paper, and McAffrey's boss, played by Helen Mirren) compared to "expensive and takes hours" (McAffrey). Bringing the film into the 21st Century, Della Frye, the young journalist played by Rachel McAdams, looks after the newspaper's 'blog'. Surprisingly, Frye seems to look down on McAffrey's 'break all the rules' approach to journalism, repeatingly asking whether their investigative activities are 'legal'. So much for the rule bending young generation of today; I imagine Frye is therefore representative of the more PC world of today.

There are some well constructed twists and turns during the film, and there is some edge-of-the-seat stuff in there. Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren and Rachel McAdams play their parts well too (not so convinced about Ben Affleck). However, more could have been made of the plot - we've seen this kind of film many times before. Such that it could almost have it's own genre - 'corporate-in-bed-with-the-government conspiracy'.



Reviewed on 05/05/2009 by Sam


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