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Published on April 17th, 2009 | by simeon

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State of Play

In the corridors of the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. alliances and wheeling and dealing are the name of the game. With billions if not trillions of dollars hinging on new laws and policy, corporations clearly have an interest in which way the political winds are leaning and how it will affect their all important bottom line.
In the political thriller “State of Play”, Director Kevin MacDonald has combined a stellar cast with a strong script from Tony Gilroy, Billy Ray, and Matthew Michael Carnahan to craft one of the best dramas since Gilroy’s “Michael Clayton”.

When the lead researcher of Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), dies in an accident, it is a devastating blow to the young Congressman as he prepares for a series of hearings intended to cull the growth of a private security firm.

What is at first listed as an accident raises suspicion in veteran news reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), who has had a long friendship, with Collins. Despite tension in recent years, Collins turns to Cal when it is revealed that he had an affair with his researcher. As Cal looks into the story he is under pressure from his editor (Helen Mirren), to deliver a story to keep the papers new owners happy. If this was not bad enough, Cal is also dogged by an online reporter for the paper named Della (Rachael McAdams), who is looking to make a name for herself at the paper.

Cal soon learns that the assistant was killed in what was made to look like an accident, and that a shooting incident that occurred prior to the death may be related to the murder.

Cal teams up with Della and soon learns that some very big players may be involved and that they will stop at nothing to protect their secret.

In a race against time, Cal and Della must get to the bottom of the mystery and stay alive. Unsure who to trust and which way their leads will follow, Cal and Della look for the answers that unaware that the quest they have undertaken will affect the halls of power as well as the very nation itself.

“State of Play” is a very tight thriller that is filled with twists and turns. The characters are interesting and well developed and the performances are first rate. Crowe is powerful as the determined Cal and works well with Affleck and Adams. Robin Wright Penn and Helen Mirren also give very strong performances.
The story of the film seems ripped from the headlines and has an eerie sense of reality to it, and works much better than “The International” attempted to do with its conspiracy premise.

While I have avoided as many spoilers as I could, suffice it to say that the film does have a deep plot that twists and turns to a rewarding conclusion and will keep your attention. I would hope that the fine work in this film is not forgotten when the Oscars come up next.

4.5 stars out of 5.


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