State of Play (2009)



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

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, … More

Rating: PG-13 (for some violence, language including sexual references, and brief drug content)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Tony Gilroy, Paul Abbott, Matthew Michael Carnahan, Billy Ray
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 1, 2009
Box Office: $37.0M
Universal Pictures - Official Site


as Cal McAffrey

as Stephen Collins

as Della Frye

as Cameron Lynne

as Anne Collins

as Dominic Foy

as Senator George Fergu...

as Michael Bingham

as Detective Donald Bel...

as Gene Stavitz

as Dr. Judith Franklin

as PointCorp Insider

as PointCorp Executive

as Chris Kawai

as Andrew Pell

as Sonia Baker

as Greer Thornton

as Officer Brown

as Deshaun Stagg
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for State of Play

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Critic Reviews for State of Play

All Critics (204) | Top Critics (47)

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.

Full Review… | April 4, 2011

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

Full Review… | August 3, 2010
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.

Full Review… | April 15, 2010
Fan The Fire

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

Full Review… | August 31, 2009

Quite a stew of 'relevance'

Full Review… | August 25, 2009

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."

Full Review… | August 19, 2009

Audience Reviews for State of Play



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.

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).

Raymond Wieser
Raymond Wieser

Super Reviewer

State of Play Quotes

– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

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