Cinema Review - State Of Play

Murder, government conspiracies, love triangles, and oh so many twisting plots, all in a day’s work for brash newspaper reporter Cal McAffrey who uncovers it all; if only the life of an everyday hack was this thrilling. This film is certainly intriguing to watch as the suspense is well paced keeping the audience enthralled throughout.

The film which is directed by Kevin MacDonald (Touching the Void, The Last King of Scotland ) and written by Tony Gilroy, Matthew Michael Carnahan, and Bill Ray, is a Hollywood adaptation of a six-part BBC series that first broadcast in 2003. It begins with a petty thief being gunned down in a dirty allyway by a very creepy and highly skilled assasin (Michael Berresse ). The suspence continues with a congressman’s assistant/lover falling in front of a subway train. Is it really suicide? Are these deaths linked in some way and if so, why?

McAffrey (Russell Crowe ), a wisecracking, scruffy, and seasoned reporter for the Washington Globe, arrives at the alleyway crime scene and plays his favourite game of “confirm or deny” with the local cops to get some answers. Somewhat reluctantly he teams up with rookie reporter and blogger Della Frye, and together they connect the murders linking them to an attempted cover-up by a private military contractor PointCorp which has a structured network of die-hard mercenary former soldiers at its disposal.

McAffrey’s investigations also lead him back to his old college room-mate turned high-flying congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck ) and his wife Anne (Robin Wright Penn ). Congressman Collins, who is probing the dealings of PointCorp, breaks down on the morning of a hearing as new breaks of the death of his lead research assistant, revealing to the unrelenting press that the two had more than just a professional relationship. He turns to McAffrey for help in dealing with the media onslaught.

Torn between his duties as a reporter to get the ultimate story, his loyalties to his friend, McAffrey pushes his luck with his strict no-frills editor (Helen Mirren ) to uncover clues, talking and sometimes threatening informants, and putting his life at risk in the process. However, the reporters find that the corruption and deceit goes much, much, further than initially thought.

Not since Gladiator have I enjoyed Russell Crowe so much. You can’t take your eyes off him. It’s certainly not his looks (Crowe definitely piled on the pounds for this role ) but it is his brilliant acting skill. The film overall was very entertaining with nice little twists here, there, and everywhere, however, a little more tweaking and it could have been exceptional.

Verdict: 4.5/5

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