State of Play



Thrillers are one of my favorite genres, bar none. The ‘newsroom thriller’ has provided some great films over the years (most notably All The President’s Men).  I read Roger Ebert’s review of this film; he thinks newspaper thrillers will continue, even if the newspaper itself dies off in the next couple of years.  I disagree on both points, but I’m guessing you want my opinion of this movie, so away we go…

The setup for this story is a pretty girl who just happened to work in the office of a young and upcoming Senator (played well by Ben Affleck) is murdered in the DC subway system.  It’s soon revealed the Senator was having an affair with the girl, and his best friend Cal (played by Russell Crowe) is constantly dancing on the line between being the Senator’s friend, and a top notch investigative reporter for the Washington Globe.  The cast is filled out by Robin Wright Penn as the Senator’s wife, Rachel McAdams as the cute blogger who represents the next wave of journalism, and Helen Mirren as the editor of the newspaper.

I’ll spare you more of the plot for two reasons.  One, it’s a thriller, and the who/what/why is the reason you go to see movies like this.  Secondly though, in my opinion, this is one of those movies that had one twist too many, so by the end, while the story was well told and I had all the facts, I was still trying to piece together who was playing who.  The easy answer is, well that’s DC politics (and it is I’m sure), but for entertainment purposes I think they could have simplified it a little.

The casting was solid from top on down.  I heard Brad Pitt was the original lead; it’s hard for me to imagine him in this role (and I’m a Pitt fan for the most part).  One person I didn’t mention in my cast rundown: Jason Bateman.  It gives none of the story away to say that, again, he steals scenes like he was born to do it.  Dodgeball, Hancock, and I’m sure I’m leaving more films out, but you want to talk about carving a niche for yourself and running with it.  I think Fred Willard is the only one who does it better than him.

Anyway, don’t let my complaints turn you completely off.  Overall I thought it was a pretty solid flick.  Not a bad way at all to kick off what’s looking like a busy summer for your neighborhood film geek…

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