Tuesday, August 18, 2009

State of Play (2009) 6.5/10



STATE OF PLAY
DIRECTED BY: KEVIN MACDONALD
WRITTEN BY: MATTHEW MICHAEL CARNAHAN, TONY GILROY, AND BILLY RAY

Inspired by the 6-part british television series of the same name, State of Play follows reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), long time friend of congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), who investigates the mysterious death of one of the congressmans aids. Things get complicated quickly though when it turns out there is a connection between the aids death, and that of 2 others who appear to have been killed by a professional. In order to simplify things, McAffrey teams up with up and comer blog writer Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), and seek out to solve the case, and save their flailing newspaper.

State of Play is a captivating thriller that, not surprisingly given its past, has a very Law and Order/TV show vibe. In that there is the central case everyone is working on, and in between big unveilings we learn a little bit about each character through brief dialogue. Condensing the 6-part series into a 2 hour movie seems a daunting task, but one that the writers handle with great care and extract only the necessary details for character development. Unfortunately they don't quite knock down all of the loose ends for the thriller, leaving the audience with some questions that are quite pivotal to the plot.

Being a huge fan of TV cop dramas, watching State of Play is really just like sitting there watching another show. This is both a plus and a minus to the film. It's a plus in that, unlike a TV show, the budget allows for the movie to be more wide spread, with more experienced actors, and writers. On the downside it feels like you're watching a 2 hour long pilot, something that's meant to build characters only to a point, and then launch from there. Instead you're watching an entire movie, one in which once the film stops rolling so do the characters, and as such the closure becomes very indifference inspiring.

That's not to say what is there isn't good, it is, and well worth the view. Just throughout the film, State of Play has that overarching feeling it belongs to something more, longer, and in depth. So that while it's entertaining, and definitely worth your time in rental and view, I wouldn't recommend you run out and grab it right away.

3 better thoughts:

TheAnswerMVP2001 said...

Personally I liked this movie, one of my Top five of the year so far. Ironically I prepped up a review after I saw it when it first came out and I never got around to finalizing it. I'm a big Russell Crowe fan and the combo of Crowe and McAdams was a treat. I will be running out and grabbing this one when it arrives on Blu-ray next month. I didn't get the Cop Drama vibe, but then again I hate crime shows, there's way too many of them on TV, as there are medical shows, I choose to stay away from them.

Chase Kahn said...

I loved how this film said, "Hey, fuck you new-age media with your blogs and twitter accounts, this is how it's done".

It's basically a swan song to print media/journalism, where writers were bulldog, pen-and-notepad, investigators who wrote what they uncovered.

It's not a "great" movie at all, but I really love it for that. Plus the cast is good and it's serviceable thriller before you get to all the good stuff.

Univarn said...

I get very worn out on the 'FU' to new age media because in 20+ years when I'm as old as the characters of the film they'll be rambling about whatever is new about how twitter and blogs are the old school way of reporting/communicating.

I do admire those who do real investigative reporting though, and it creates for some great characters. There's always been a film fascination with 'old school.' The John Wayne/Clint Eastwood approach to doing things.

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