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State of Play (2009)



Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 205
Fresh: 172 | Rotten: 33

A taut, well-acted political thriller, State of Play overcomes some unsubtle plot twists with an intelligent script and swift direction.


Average Rating: 6.2/10
Critic Reviews: 48
Fresh: 34 | Rotten: 14

A taut, well-acted political thriller, State of Play overcomes some unsubtle plot twists with an intelligent script and swift direction.



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 123,104

My Rating

Movie Info

Handsome, unflappable U.S. Congressman Stephen Collins is the future of his political party--an honorable appointee who serves as the chairman of a committee overseeing defense spending. All eyes are upon the rising star to be his party's contender for the upcoming presidential race. Until his research assistant/mistress is brutally murdered and buried secrets come tumbling out. D.C. reporter Cal McCaffrey has the dubious fortune of both an old friendship with Collins and a ruthless editor,

Sep 1, 2009


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Exclusive: State of Play - Director's Commentary
As State of Play readies for release in the UK, director Kevin Macdonald takes us through a gallery...


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All Critics (205) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (172) | Rotten (33) | DVD (8)

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.

April 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The three screenwriters may have been trying to work too many plot strands into two hours; in any case, State of Play is both overstuffed and inconclusive.

April 20, 2009 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's sentimental in all the right ways.

April 20, 2009 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As a former reporter and a fervent believer that we need good, independent newspapers to do their jobs keeping government and business in check, I think they got the journalism right.

April 20, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I want to see more films like this.

April 20, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A meandering movie that sometimes hits dead center and sometimes misfires dismally, resulting in a drama more tangled than taut.

April 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's all very "ripped from the headlines" and the characters are more types than people, but at least it doesn't talk down to you. Much.

April 4, 2011 Full Review Source:

Journalistic ethics and the scandalous nature of politics are featured in the taut conspiracy thriller, State of Play.

August 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

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

April 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Fan The Fire
Fan The Fire

Smart, complex dramas constructed and performed with precision like this are too rare an offering to pass up.

August 31, 2009 Full Review Source: | Comments (2)

Quite a stew of 'relevance'

August 25, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

Just couldn't get enthusiastic about the twists and turns in this story of an investigative reporter on the trail of political bad guys. It just made me long for "All the President's Men."

August 19, 2009 Full Review Source: CNNRadio

Kevin Macdonald's State of Play has, in fact, everything you need to tell a great journalist's story, except a great story.

August 11, 2009 Full Review Source: UGO | Comment (1)

Well played sirs. Well played

August 3, 2009 Full Review Source: 3BlackChicks Review | Comment (1)
3BlackChicks Review

Boasting a cracking cast and a deliciously clever script, State of Play is a polished political thriller not to be missed.

August 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Moviedex

Un thriller rutinario e intrascendente, que pretende hablar de temas importantes como la corrupción, la ética periodística y los abusos del corporativismo pero se queda en la superficie.

July 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

tate of Play is a smoothly written, almost instantly forgettable procedural featuring people we have trouble caring about.

May 31, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinerina

It's really a story about the romance of newspapers and a good one - part of a tradition that goes all the way back to Ben Hecht and The Front Page. It may also mark the genre's end.

May 31, 2009 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

The film held me a fair way in, because it's well paced and the actors are competent. But finally, the plot took one or two big twists too far.

May 29, 2009 Full Review Source: MovieTime, ABC Radio National
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

State of Play succeeds as mainstream entertainment to the point where it hardly makes sense to complain about its pulled political punches.

May 29, 2009 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

It hits the ground running, and - while never remotely innovative - manages to be unpredictable and labyrinthine enough to generally hold our attention.

May 27, 2009 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

Newspapers may be changing, but accessible adult movies of this quality are certain to keep Hollywood alive and kicking well into this century.

May 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Courier Mail (Australia)
Courier Mail (Australia)

Director Kevin Macdonald attacks the material with aggression and panache, simultaneously decrying the fading stocks of serious journalism while marking out the shadow zone where government and big business seal their dirty deals.

May 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Herald Sun (Australia)
Herald Sun (Australia)

I suspect that "State of Play's" minor faults will be easily forgivable by audiences just looking for some adult-level dramatics before they're banished for the summer movie season.

May 25, 2009 Full Review Source: Sean the Movie Guy

It's the kind of slick showstopper that's packed with enough twists, turns and deadly tension to lead the news any day of the week.

May 25, 2009 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (Australia)
Sunday Times (Australia)

Represents mainstream Hollywood filmmaking at its best.

May 22, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Audience Reviews for State of Play

May 17, 2014
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

"You're just seeking the truth. You're a truth seeker. You can't help it, that is just who you are."

A team of investigative reporters work alongside a police detective to try to solve the murder of a congressman's mistress.

"State of Play," directed by Kevin Macdonald, is a smart, topical political thriller whose cast of characters includes a congressional aide who dies under mysterious circumstances; a scandal-plagued Capitol Hill legislator; a seasoned reporter for a mainstream newspaper; an unseasoned cub reporter for that same paper's on-line blog; and a Blackwater-type quasi-military organization that will seemingly stop at nothing, even murder, in its effort to privatize the War on Terror for power and profit.

Ben Affleck is the congressman from Pennsylvania whose affair with the murdered woman threatens to bring to light some serious behind-the scenes skullduggery on the part of the company that is currently under investigation by Affleck's committee for alleged acts of brutality and terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. Russell Crowe is the journalist for the fictional "Washington Globe" who's investigating the case even though his lifelong friendship with both the congressman and the congressman's beautiful but long-suffering wife (Robin Penn Wright) may represent a major conflict-of-interest for the paper. Rachel McAdams is the wet-behind-the-ears blog reporter who joins Crowe in his investigation, and Helen Mirren is the no-nonsense editor-in-chief responsible for making sure that the two mutually antagonistic reporters work in tandem, rather than at cross purposes, in their effort to get the story. The script (based on a six-part British series) is complex but relatively easy to follow as it deftly twists and turns its way to its irony-drenched conclusion. As a sidebar, the movie examines how compromise has become the order of the day in journalism, now that an ever-dwindling number of "legitimate" newspapers are being forced to compete with sensationalistic tabloids and blogs for readership and revenue. A film for thinking adults.
July 1, 2012
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

State of Play is a good political thriller with twists coming at you when you least expect them. Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren and Robin Wright Penn were absolutely fantastic in this film. They carry the film through some implausible plot twists which left me somewhat confused, but somehow, the film always made sure the audience was following along. They'd stop and say "OK what've we got so far?". Some times the story just felt rushed, like they were making an effort to keep the audience in the loop, but wanting to keep the pace up and complicate the story a bit more.... The script is very intelligent and well-written, and the direction by Kevin MacDonald was good as well. Overall, State of Play left me in a mild state of confusion, but in the end, it all made sense, and kept me involved (even a little breathless at times).
March 30, 2012
Raymond Wieser

Super Reviewer

"State of Play". A very similar movie to this is "Body of Lies"... it also stars Russell Crowe! They are very similar like this: "State of Play" was engaging and brings the audience through the plot. We become interested in what will happen... but there is almost 0 character development. We are uninterested in what happens to the characters. Don't get me wrong, this movie was a fun time... but what else could we say? "State of Play" does not stick in our minds and the plot doesn't carry enough emotional weight for it to be an issue that we would stress over in real life. I liked it, but didn't love this movie.
March 9, 2012
Albert Kim

Super Reviewer

    1. Detective Donald Bell: Whatever you're sellin', I ain't buyin'.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Congressman Stephen Collins: You're just seeking the truth. You're a truth seeker. You can't help it, that is just who you are. You're such a hypocrite. You're not interested in me. You come in here, it's all about you and you getting your story. I trusted you. You're my friend! You were supposed to be my friend anyway.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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Foreign Titles

  • State of Play - Stand der Dinge (DE)
  • Jeux de Pouvoir (FR)
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