Movie Review: State of Play (2009)

Posted: August 25, 2013 in Drama
Tags: ,



Cal McCaffrey (Russell Crowe) is investigating the murders of a small time drug dealer and a pizza delivery man who witnessed the murder of the drug dealer.  Sonia Baker, (Maria Thayer) an aide to Congressman Stephen Collins. (Ben Affleck)  During the investigation, McCaffrey found Baker’s number on the drug dealer’s phone. Sonia Baker was investigating privatization contracts that are worth billions of dollars to defense contractor, Point Corp.  Sonia Baker is also having an affair with Congressman Collins.  So who killed Sonia Baker?  Was it the drug dealer?  Was it someone from the contracting company to keep the billions from the government flowing?  Or was it Congressman Collins to cover his affair with Sonia?

This is a very interesting movie.  It synthesizes two hot stories that affected U.S. politics in the early to mid 2000’s.  It mixes the Chandra Levy scandal with the Blackwater scandal and it does a pretty effective job of making a suspenseful political thriller.  There are characters and subplots that are unnecessary and the overall length is too long at over 2 hours, but it does a good job of keeping the viewer guessing until the end.  I didn’t necessarily like the ending, but the viewer has to stay tuned until the end.

The acting varies wildly, Russell Crowe carries this movie, and is the reason why this movie is worth watching, he gives a gutsy, solid performance.  Ben Affleck on the other hand, thankfully given a smaller role than Crowe, watch Affleck trying to emote is actually laugh inducing, whether he’s trying to cry or trying to get angry, it just doesn’t work.  Rachel McAdams is also laughable as an internet reporter partnering with Crowe’s character to report on the juicier aspects of the story.  McAdams doesn’t show any maturity in her roles, she’s the same simpering schoolgirl type she plays in those drippy romance movies that she is in this movie. Helen Mirren is great as the tough as nails newspaper editor, who Crowe’s character works for, but Jason Bateman is badly miscast as a whistleblowing PR guy for the contracting company. The writing is good, the pacing is good, but the story is too long and could have done with some judicious editing.

Now to the hot topic de jour, I reviewed this movie at this time to review Ben Affleck’s acting, and I found nothing has changed since his bombs like Gigli and Daredevil.  Some might argue that his acting has improved in movies like The Town and Argo, I disagree, he may be a good director, the jury is still out on that but he definitely is not a good actor.  He relies much too much on his looks and his emotional scenes in all his movies leave me cold.  Bottom line I will not be going to see Affleck playing Batman in 2015.  Christian Bale raised the bar so high for Batman that no one should play that role for a long time.  But Hollywood is about commerce, and they think they can make money with Affleck, they can try, but they won’t get mine.

State of Play.  Not Child’s Play.

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