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State of Play Reviews

Page 1 of 375

Super Reviewer

November 7, 2008
"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.
Raymond W

Super Reviewer

March 30, 2012
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).
Albert K

Super Reviewer

December 30, 2010
"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.
paul o.
paul o.

Super Reviewer

January 7, 2012
A mediocre political thriller. Unless you're a fan of this genre, you're not missing much. The acting is good but the pacing is awkward and rushed. A very decent film.
Nathan H.
Nathan H.

Super Reviewer

October 25, 2011
This movie is great. Excellent plot, excellent cast, excellent directing. Russell Crowe plays his part perfectly, as do fellow actors Ben Affleck, Rachel Mcadams, and Hellen Mirren. If one is just looking for an action-filled, mindless thriller, this is not the movie. State of Play is a thinking movie, for those in the audience who like to use their brain during the film. It's a mind game with great twists and brilliant ending. Obviously, all who took part in it, gave this movie some thought.
Lady D

Super Reviewer

April 20, 2009
My predicted rating: 3.5

The U.S remake of a British Drama Series, told with a realistic edge and great performances all around, Russell Crowe gives a show stealing performance.

A story of Political conspiracy, friendship, murder, loyalty and power. A fast paced story with many twists and turns.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

September 9, 2011
I don't think I've enjoyed a Russell Crowe performance as much as this so far in his career. It's nothing like the BBC series, which is a good thing, as I didn't think much of it. Kevin Macdonald is a diverse director too, certainly not a one trick pony, he's just as good at thrillers as he is at documentaries!

Super Reviewer

April 25, 2011
A amazing crime thriller. First thing you need to know the acting in this movie was great, but I found Afflecks performance the most powerful. The plot was understandable and well crafted. There is no action in this movie so don't be expecting ANY gun fights or car chases, just a simple crime movie. This movie had me smiling at the end it was so good, makes me mad it wasn't a bigger hit at the box office.

Super Reviewer

April 29, 2009
Smart, exciting and well-paced political thriller! Nice turn of events and a very intriguing plotline (although I'll admit that a lot of it went over my head). Great music score as well, which helped boosting the already high suspense. The kind of movie that proves you don't need a bunch of explosions or car chases to keep things interesting. Because although the action scenes are few in number, it never once got boring. Mainly thanks to the superbly written script, and the great lead actors. Even Ben Affleck, whom I normally dislike for his banal acting, pulls off a pretty good performance. Definitely one of the best films of its kind that I've seen in recent years.
Lanning :

Super Reviewer

June 25, 2011
I really cannot fathom how Ben Affleck keeps getting work. Definitely the greatest factor in making this movie less than satisfying. I've not seen the original BBC series, but one thing that could have made this better -- aside from casting someone who could act as Collins -- would be to refine the killings, specifically the hospital killing. Rather than shoot the guy through the window, which surely convinces the world that something is indeed up here, the whole thing could have been more mysterious if the patient had died of natural causes induced by Bingham -- just too heavy-handed. The more secretive and speculative, the better. Crowe is decent, Penn is okay, Bateman is surprising, Mirren brings class, and Daniels has become very good at playing bad guys -- maybe the best thing about the whole movie. Jeff Daniels is a seasoned acting pro.
Kyle F.
Kyle F.

Super Reviewer

June 15, 2011
Kevin Macdonald handles everything well, be it action sequences, heavy dialogue, or character moments. The actors are also all top notch. Russell Crowe proves more than ever that he can play different kinds of characters, Ben Affleck is believable through and through, and Rachel McAdams ads some spunk to the story. It's Helen Mirren who comes out as less realistic than the rest, but there's a nice, creepy score to compliment the tense footage.
Sajin P

Super Reviewer

May 26, 2011
A not-so-convincing thriller, that leaves many ends untied.
Jens S

Super Reviewer

April 14, 2009
This film single handedly revives the genre of the political journalistic thriller, which was so popular in the 70s. What makes it such a pleasure to watch are the outstanding performances, especially by Crowe, Bateman, Mirren and, yes, even Ben Affleck and the very smart script that needs an observant audience but is very rewarding in the end. The level of excitement stays high throughout the whole film as the plot thickens and the constant threat gets bigger, just like the genre requires, yet the grim humor doesn't feel out of place. The result is a praise to the profession of the journalist and a highly entertaining, intelligent piece of film. People who found the blockbusters of the 2009 summer lacking in substance should be pleased.

Super Reviewer

August 23, 2010
State of Play is not 100% original, but holds it's title very well. It is very complex and thrilling. It had the potential to be better than it was, but I was pleasantly surprised to say that this film is very good!
Stephen M

Super Reviewer

June 29, 2008
As a fan of the original BBC TV series I was expecting bad things from this and was pleasantly surprised. Of course, you can't turn a six part series into a two hour movie without sacrificing a measure of complexity, though, on the whole, Kevin MacDonald and his writers do a good job of streamlining the plot. I would even go so far as to say that the film version benefits from the removal of a couple of decidedly fishy red herrings that didn't stand up to retrospective scrutiny. For those who may not know, Brad Pitt was originally attached to the project but dropped out in pre-production when he failed to see eye to eye with MacDonald. Was he right to do so? Well, yeah, probably, because the film is merely good when it could and should have been great, though I don't believe his departure hurt the film artistically, even if it did so financially. Judging the quality of his performance by the fact that I missed John Simm (the original Cal McAffrey) far less than I expected to, Russell Crowe, Pitt's eleventh hour replacement, was fine. Ben Affleck, however, was no substitute for Paul Morrissey, though in fairness to him, his Stephen Collins, Congressman, is massively underwritten here compared to Morrissey's Stephen Collins, MP. Which brings me on to another point: for a film in which time is so obviously tight and simplification is the order of the day, why is MacDonald so keen to introduce a tangential rolling discourse on the future of print journalism versus online blogging? At such awkward moments, it's like watching a talented cast twiddling their thumbs while an ex-journo has a wank.
Richard C

Super Reviewer

July 29, 2010
it was good but not anything amzing. B-
Lewis C

Super Reviewer

January 14, 2009
"A good soldier fights for his country...and his friends. But these guys, they want to make it all about the money. You want to live in a world like that?"

State of Play is a solid political thriller. It doesn't move beyond the shadowy corporate conspiracies and government corruption that is so common in this genre, but thanks to a combination of a great cast, good writing, and solid camera work, it's one of the better entries (along with The International, which was more slanted towards action) that I've seen recently.

This is very much an ensemble cast, though Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdama and Russell Crowe are clearly the leads. Three excellent leads, as it happens. I've never been so impressed with Rachel McAdams, as I was in this movie. Russell Crowe once again plays a reporter so well that it seems like he could stop acting and get a job at a newspaper, tomorrow. And Ben Affleck has totally made me forget about some of the horrible movies that he's been a part of in the past. The man is a good actor. The rest of the cast is made up of such notable names as Hellen Mirren, Robin Wright, Viola Davis, Harry Lennix, and Jason Bateman. Each of them shines in their roles, no matter how major or minor.

None of those actors could salvage State of Play if it was an incoherent mess, as so many of these movies unfortunately tend to devolve into. Luckily, that's not the case. The story does have one too many twists at the end, but otherwise it's clear, interesting, easy to follow, and makes sense. Director Kevin Macdonald seems to have a good grasp on the fact that a movie can be intelligent and involving without being a labyrinthine mess.

This is also somewhat of a love letter to newspapers and the old-timey journalism that seems to be vanishing in today's blog and everything-online oriented world. The newspaper office is largely where the mysteries are uncovered, pondered, and solved, and that gives State of Play a rather unique place amongst the countless movies that fall under the thriller umbrella.

Super Reviewer

June 14, 2010
A very well directed political thriller that comes off as very believable until the final plot twist, State of Play is the tale of a journalist (Crowe) whose former college roommate is now an up and coming Congressman targeting the privatization of our military. When the Congressman's (Ben Afflick) mistress dies in an apparant suicide a byzantine plot begins to reveal itself, involving a senior Senator (beautifully slimey portrayal by Jeff Bridges), the Blackwater type mercenary millitia, and the dead mistress who may or may not have been some kind of double agent.

Crowe and a young blogger for the newspaper are left to untangle all the clues, while running afoul of the police and the millitia in an attempt to protect Afflick's reputation and political clout, as well as getting the story that editor Helen Mirren (in a typically wonderful portrayal) needs so desperately.

In a less unsure hand this film could have easily fallen into cliche and a sense that we've seen this all before, but here McDonald directs with great pacing and believablility, using different camera angles and long hallway shots to subliminally put you inside the film.

McDonald and his script also avoid the trap of dumbing things down, so even though the who and why are easy to follow we don't get hit over the head with a road map.

The only real fault in the film comes at the last plot twist which simply seems too convenient and makes the entire issue of the rogue millitia agent seem like a red herring. I found this twist to be unnecessary, and the film would have played better without it.
Dean !

Super Reviewer

April 25, 2009
A very good, intelligent, political/conspiracy thriller. It has a strong all star cast including the welcome edition of Helen Mirren playing the straight talking editor. Plenty of good twists and turns along the way as the plot slowly unravels. You watch it in anticipation of what might happen next. One of the better political thrillers I have seen in a long time.
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