State of Play… Gary Condit action figure not included.
State of Play (2009): 6 out of 10: State of Play is two hours plus big budget thriller without one memorable scene and only one memorable performance. The memorable performance is Helen Mirren, who brightens up the screen whenever she appears. The rest of the performances are more stereotypes than individual characters.
Russell Crowe plays a reporter for a Washington Post stand-in. He looks and act like the stereotypical beat reporter. His best friend is congressional representative Ben Affleck, who is your standard movie congressman (Noble but battling demons.) He is caught in an affair with a now dead staffer and his best friend is on the case. Tagging along with Crowe is neophyte cub reporter Rachel McAdams who Jimmy Olsen’s it up despite the fact she is a lead blogger at a major national newspaper. Robin Wright Penn plays Affleck’s cuckolded wife and seems to be in a different movie than the rest of the cast.
Mirren is the newspapers publisher and gets the films best lines, which she dishes with aplomb. Everyone else seems to be playing along at half speed. For a thriller, there is a strange lack of action or tension. The twists seemed preordained and the characters behave exactly as they are programmed.
The film certainly has star power and a big budget, but it simply does not seem to know what to do with it. Part of the problem is that it is condensed from a 2003 British mini-series of the same name. Condensing the 300 minutes of plot into 120 or so minutes leaves little room for character development or nuance. The players seem to be quickly checking of plot boxes.
The films other big problem is that it is an overwrought love letter to the newspaper business, including groan worthy dialogue about the magnanimous printed fourth estate and an end title sequence that can only be described as porn for publishers.
Somewhat entertaining and yet eminently forgettable State of Play is worth a look. Just do not expect that good a time.