Based on the 2003 BBC mini-series of the same name, State of Play takes six hours of storyline and truncates into a little over two. And the result? A fairly decent political thriller that is big on star power.
I think one of the main reasons this film hasn’t been doing well at the box office despite the cast of A-listers is the way the trailer was cut together. When I first saw the trailer I had very little if no interest in seeing this movie. It looked boring. It looked predictable. It looked like another by-the-book political thriller. While two of the three are true, there are several strong points to the film that are worth a look.
As mentioned above, the cast is top-notch. You really can’t go wrong with Russell Crowe (Gladiator) at the helm, and even Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting) puts on a decent performance. It’s a who’s who of celebs as Helen Mirren (The Queen), the sexy Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls, Red Eye), Jason Bateman (Hancock), Robin Wright Penn (The Princess Bride), and Jeff Daniels (The Lookout) juggle politics and journalism while delivering solid performances as well.
The film has political and journalistic relevance, which is probably why it’s not doing as well as 17 Again, Earth, and Hannah Montana: The Movie. It brings up issues of political corruption and infidelity, wartime contracted mercenaries, and the fate of the newspaper business.
While these are certainly topics in the 24-hour news cycles of CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, their appeal when $10 for a ticket is involved more than likely becomes less than appealing.
I would counter that viewpoint by saying that while these are issues that influence the overall thematic palette of the film, there’s a solid investigative/crime story interwoven throughout that resurrects and brings new life to these seemingly dry and tired topics.
State of Play is engaging and will keep your attention. There’s no big twist ending, no huge bombshell, and no freakin’ aliens involved (Thank God!), but that does little to detract from the quality of the overall experience.
It’s an enjoyable movie with an enjoyable cast, and I was impressed at how they shrunk down the BBC miniseries into a shorter time span. If you’ve got a free weekend and need an option at the theatre other than Obsessed, Fighting, or Crank: High Voltage, I recommend State of Play. Or you can see The Soloist.
State of Play = A.