Customer Reviews: State of Play
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on August 16, 2009
Finally a great adult suspense film about several timely subjects . It 's about the dying newspapers and political corruption.
Russell Crowe is excellent as an overweight ,slightly shabby journalist ,who is flawed personally,but an excellent journalist.
Helen Mirren is good as his stressed boss.Ben Afflek is surprisingly good as his old friend and US congressman. Rachel
McAdams is fine as the new face of the news,a blogger for the newspaper. There is suspense, that grabs you and holds you til the end. I saw it with friends and discussed it through and after dinner. Always a sign of a good movie. How in the world does Crowe manage to be so appealing in messy clothes and overweight? I highly recommend this movie.
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VINE VOICEon May 16, 2010
My husband brought home this DVD and I'd never even heard of it. Why wasn't this a huge hit? Was it only in theaters for a minute, or what? My theory: this is another movie that fell victim to a terrible, awful title. I challenge you to remember the title "State of Play" while you are watching it, without cheating and looking at the DVD case.

As for the movie, five hearty stars, two thumbs up, GREAT suspenseful, smart thriller with a terrific all-star cast. A love letter to the dying/ changing newspaper industry, a nod to the Watergate era and the movie "All the President's Men" (a great movie title!), and a taut political drama. I actually hugged my fleece throw at a few places, it was very tense.

Recommendation: Absolutely. Our whole family watched it (two teenagers, two parents) and enjoyed it. Great movie led by stellar cast.
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on September 2, 2009
Based on the BBC mini-series, director Kevin McDonald's "STATE OF PLAY" blends the two most reliable, favorite ingredients of an effective thriller; a political-conspiracy thriller mixed in with a journalism drama with a touch of a murder mystery mixed in. The film's direction can be taut, clean and energetic that plays on the moralities of politics and the responsibility of credible reporting. Kevin McDonald maneuvers the film's script in a meaty web of intrigue and suspense that is nicely acted and honest in its execution.

Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) is a seasoned reporter working at a struggling newspaper called "The Washington Globe". When the research assistant (played by Maria Thayer) and lover to a congressman named Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is killed, her mysterious death provokes a lot of speculation for a high-profile story. Cal has a history with Collins and his wife Anne (Robin Wright Penn), so he is the natural pick to tackle this story. But Cal becomes conflicted with what story he wants to tell the longer he digs for the truth; which leads him to team up with a young inexperienced reporter named Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) to sort out the mystery full of political intrigue to avoid further bloodshed and uncover the real story behind all the rumors and deceptions. Cal now finds himself face to face with his own `crisis of conscience' as his own proven investigative skills may not coincide with the needs for profit and that the real story may alienate his own friends.

"State of Play" is a thriller that tries to keep its toes by mixing in elements of a political thriller that touches on some real world events after the tragedy of 9/11 and the responsibilities of credible fact-finding. The script by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Matthew Carnahan (The Kingdom) and Billy Ray has its share of good dialogue delivered by characters that has some layers and dimensions that proved interesting. Cal represents the old-school style of reporting; he checks his facts, looks for credible sources and ignores the unnecessary hidden stories. His dislike on young inexperienced blogger Della comes absolutely natural. Cal sees her as the spoiled reporter who may write appealing articles who happen to have a better computer and a better office. The two are representations of the signs of the times and the internet phenomenon. It was also nice to see the script avoid the trappings of a perfunctory romance between the two reporters but instead director McDonald uses a sort of a mentor-student type of relationship between the two after they realize that they are both after the same thing.

The film's political side comes from the character of Stephen Collins who may have the best interests of the country at heart, although he made some mistakes on some decisions such as bedding his own research assistant. The screenplay is a little cautious, but it does point an accusing finger at certain corporations who make huge profit from a war. Apparently the privatization of soldiers in the war against terror is one profitable industry, and these soldiers are just mercenaries answerable to no one. The moral responsibilities of fighting a war are touched upon as well as maintaining the image of a clean public figure. Smear campaigns, damaging rumors and speculations are used to manipulate Congress to satisfy the needs of big corporate America.

Director McDonald does get the atmosphere and the fast-paced feel of a newspaper right. I liked the old-school `press room' with the editor looking above the reporters. McDonald is to be commended that he remembered to bring such late night hurdles into exposition; although frankly, the stereotypical character of Cal's editor in the person of Helen Mirren should've been abandoned. Mirren does a good performance as Cal's impatient and overly cautious editor, but her character has been overused in other films in this genre. The shady, corrupt politician in the person of Jeff Daniels has also been done to death. I also have issues with the age factor between Cal and Collins; Affleck and Crowe just don't fit as former college buddies. Affleck is decent as the congressman but Crowe just looked so much older than him, I couldn't really buy into the idea that they're the same age. The relationship between Cal and Anne isn't really brought into fruition; quite frankly, it felt a little forced to add some spice to the screenplay.

The manner of which the plot unravels is full of various storylines that come to a satisfying ending but some elements feel unnecessary. The script should have been more compact and some scenes dragged a little bit. It doesn't really hurt the film but Jason Bateman's scenes should have been more efficiently played out. It also seemed to try too hard on satisfying its audience in both the cerebral conspiracy thriller fan base and the action junkies; it does work on some levels but I thought the script may have had the fear of becoming too talkie that it needed to bring some gunplay into the mix. Some of the scenes just didn't match the film's tone at times.

"State of Play" does have some nice touches such as an old-fashioned workhorse in the face of "blogger-space", it explores the morals of profit gain and the responsibilities of public officials; the problem is, sometimes, it just felt that the film didn't have confidence enough to stay within the realms of a journalistic drama. It tries to be too complex just for the sake of becoming complex, that it felt like it threw too many ideas that slowed the film's pace. It does feel predictable in the middle of the film, but I did appreciate the effort in delivering a credible thriller. It does deliver the goods and the effective revelations do hit the right spots.

Recommended! [3 ½ Stars]

Video/Audio: 2.35 ratio anamorphic widescreen. The picture looks pristine even when the colors looked a little restrained. The quality of the picture matches the film's tone. The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is clear enough and well channeled.
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on December 29, 2009
A solid entertaining, mature thriller. As usual Crowe and Mirren are their absolute best. McAdams and a surprising Affleck are also good. Some good plot twists, an interesting story, exceptional acting, and witty dialogue make this a winner through and through.
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on October 8, 2009
You are taken on quite a ride with 'State of Play' where Ben Affleck and Russell Crow play friends, Affleck a very involved Congressman and Crow a very active Journalist who seems on the last legs of a career with the paper he works for going more to the web. His editor, who is attempting to squeeze every dollar out of the paper gets more and more delirious about McAffrey (Crow) as he tries to track down the truth behind a scandal involving congressman Collins (Affleck).

There are a few twists and you get a feel of the issues that the News Media faces with balancing getting the story, versus getting the truth. (See the Book 'Losing the News'). Then you have a congressman who is overseeing the committee for reviewing a new national security consulting firm. The plot thickens as McAffrey pulls back the layers of information using all of the sources he can dig up. Great bit on investigative journalism. I think it gives a little of a sense of what went on in the Watergate era with Deep Throat and Woodward and Burnstein.

The junior reporter/blogger Della Frye, played by Rachel McAdams, is vying for getting noticed in her career giving us a sense of play between Generation X and the quickly getting behind the times Baby Boom Generation.

You have a couple of interesting threads blending marvelously into one, issues of Government and corruption, Journalistic excellence and the current state of the News Print medium and internal generational differences.

This really makes for keeping you on the edge of your seat and having to really stay in tune with what is going on. Interestingly, everyone is questioning everyone elses integrity throughout and you really feel for McAffrey when everyone questions his motives for his approach in digging and digging for the truth.

Definately one of my favorites for 2009, State of Play is a must for the DVD library.
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on December 9, 2014
A different sort of atmosphere than the British TV series----a good deal more suspense and excitement, equally gripping. A good example of British ethos vs American: We like our drama more wet around the mouth, the Brits are better at building character studies. I think you should have both of them..
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on February 18, 2013
I have long been a Ben Affleck fan and although he has made a few films that were mistakes, this is not one of them! His performance is really Great and it is an intriguing and interesting story. I do prefer Ben as the hero who wins in the end, but I love a happy ending! However this was so good I will watch it over and am happy to own it. Ben Affleck has become a wonderful film maker and as good as he is as a Director/Writer/Producer, I hope he never gives up acting!
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on March 9, 2014
At one time movie directors strove to ensure that crucial action
or dialogue were highlighted, alerting the audience with
the emphasis. When the sleuth began to solve the puzzle the
audience had no difficulty interpreting the resolution and even felt a
surge of pride that they knew all along that this would be the
outcome. Now, the trend seems to be to obscure these same
clues in darkness and obscurity. Note in this story the
action begins in darkness. Is the driver leaving the car important?
why is someone running ? perhaps we should have seen the theft.
Why does the gunman shoot the cyclist ? it's too dark for identification.
The girl goes to the metro , a long drawn out walking scene that adds little to
the story and offers no important information. Why not the screech of brakes
and screams from the platform?. But, despite this , it's a great story
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VINE VOICEon October 18, 2009
Loosely based on the 2003 BBC miniseries, "State of Play" had the potential for greatness. This ripped-from-the-headlines foray into D.C. political intrigue benefits from Kevin Macdonald's stylish direction and Russell Crowe's strong performance as the scruffy veteran reporter. Unfortunately, the screenplay does a ludicrous job exploring the modern-day journalistic milieu - poorly represented by Rachel McAdams as a naïve young blogger who teams up with Crowe and inexplicably shares a byline on his front-page story! (One of the scriptwriters was Matthew Michael Carnahan, who penned the disastrous Robert Redford talkathon "Lions for Lambs.") The pivotal role of a scandal-plagued congressman fits within Ben Affleck's limited acting range while Helen Mirren and Jason Bateman shine in effective character parts. Despite scripting flaws and excessive length, "State of Play" manages to generate a fair amount of suspense. However, it is Crowe's presence that holds the film together.
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on September 12, 2013
Russell Crowe has been an actor that I've always considered to have the potential to be one of the best actors around. Against my better judgment, I gave this a shot; I'll say from the start that it has an incredibly intriguing story-line and is very well directed with superb acting all around.

However, there is a ton of profanity and course talk. I can't remember, but I don't think there was a lot of violence. And there's absolutely no integrity given to the value of family in this show.

If you're looking for a movie that is clean, AND possibly has family value, this is not it at all, I'm sorry to say.

I just can't stand how unclean movies have become, it's a real let-down.
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