State of Play (12A)

Directed by Kevin Macdonald
Written by Paul Abbott (television series), Matthew Michael Carnahan,
Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray
On general release from 24th April 2009

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Not being a big watcher of television, I failed to see the BBC political drama series screened in 2003, which this film has adapted. Obviously therefore I can not compare the two versions, of which the TV screening lasted for six hours, whereas the movie spans little over two hours.

The location has changed from England, principally Manchester, to Washington, and is centred around the offices of the Washington Globe, with top investigative reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), in tandem with junior reporter Della (Rachel McAdams), trying to uncover the corrupt activities of a company with ex-servicemen on their payroll. They receive multi-million dollar contracts in Iraq and also through Homeland Security as part of the 'war on terror'.

McAffrey's old buddy from college, congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), sits on a committee which questions Defense Department practices, or more likely malpractices.

The two are brought together, following many years absence, after an apparent suicide by Collins' mistress, who was employed as a political researcher, which leads to the media starting a witch hunt against Collins, while at the same time McAffrey smells a rat in many high ranking political places.

State Of Play does not match up to the majestic All The President's Men, but even so it is an insightful and entertaining film. A major weak point is the standard of some of the acting, with surprisingly Helen Mirren laughable as the editor of the crusading newspaper. To cal it naff would be an understatement.

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