Wednesday, October 15, 2014

State of Play (2009)

One of State of Play's biggest thrills comes during the end credits.

Please appreciate this review is penned by a newspaper reporter - an occupation that's under siege in 2014 as readers move towards news consumption online.

What a thrill, then, to see this 2009 thriller end with the front page of a Washington daily being produced for publication and, once off the printing press, being loaded into waiting trucks.

For reporters, it's a real treat to see a story you've written, especially on a major story, coming off the press and wondering how the public will react to your work.

State of Play finds Washington Globe reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) working on a major story that will rattle Washington's ruling class.

But, boy, does it sure test our patience with some incredible coincidences and iffy reporting practices.

Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is taking part in hearings regarding Pointcorp, a private security contractor. When his lead researcher dies, Sonya Baker, at a subway station, questions surround her true relationship with the up-and-coming politician. She and Collins, having trouble at home with his wife Anne (Robin Wright), were having an affair. Collins is under siege from the media. He seeks refuge from his old college roommate, Cal. A politician seeking advice from a veteran reporter. Really? That seems a little unusual.

Cal wants the story and help his friend at the same time. I'm thinking Cal, given his close relationship with Collins, should have steered well clear of the story. Paper blogger Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) is teamed up to work with Cal. Here's another strange development. She's supposed to be blogging about the researcher's death, but doesn't turn out much copy after an initial posting. Della's young, put on point along with Cal, while other senior writers do background work. Might this not cause some tension at the newspaper? Not in this film.

The questions keep coming. A man shot early in the film is in a coma in a hospital. He's in a room with blinds open. So, there's a police officer outside in the hallway, but the blinds are left up so the person who shot him, an expert shot, could potentially kill him from another building. What's up with that? I'd call that pretty lousy police security.

There's at least three door open scenes in State of Play that also raise an eyebrow, or two. Why are these doors open, given what's happening? Hard to believe, again.

Justin Bateman, who I didn't even recognize until seeing his name on Internet Movie Database, is great as public relations man Dominic Foy. On the flip side, Helen Mirren, as editor Cameron Lyne, just didn't ring true for me. Too bad. She's a great actor.

It's fun to hear Crowe's character listening to Great Big Sea in his car early in the film. The Australian actor is friends with the Newfoundland group. The Night Pat Murphy Died appears on the band's 1997 album, Play.

I watched State of Play because of its newspaper angle, but there's just too much distracting me from really enjoying this film.

RATING: 6/10

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