State of Play (2009)

Starring Russel Crow, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams
TMG Scale 8.0

This is a classic “suspense drama” which TMG believes is one level shy of a “suspense thriller.”  We think to be a true thriller you have to have more blood, gunshots, foot chases and car crashes.  Russell Crowe fans will love this film.  TMG is a big Crowe fan. The only downside to his performance is he plays a stereotypical, washed out news reporter more fitting the persona of a college newspaper editor than the real thing.  Watch this film and then go visit any college journalism school and newsroom—you will find Cal McCaffrey (Crowe’s character) pretty much everywhere. Rachel McAdams adds the “babe factor” without engaging in a steamy kiss or even once taking her clothes off—too bad.

The movie is fundamentally about cracking a story of Congressional corruption tied to a Blackwater type private military corporation called PointCorp.  Hollywood can never resist conjured up political intrigue based upon pure fiction when real fact based themes might work better.  Helen Mirren performs well as a Katharine Graham style editor, but is given lots of moronic newsroom clichés and funky journalistic morality to drivel through.  No Washington D.C. suspense script is ever complete without the death of at least one mysterious “other” woman.  I think the latter is actually required under the California Film Act of 1958.

This film made me ponder how Hollywood projects that guns are easy to shoot, you can stuff them haphazardly in your pants and it is easy to hit your target.  Television does much the same but more often projects no one can hit the broad side of Rosie O’Donnell. Most any handgun or rifle is difficult to fire correctly and accurately.  When guns fire in a heated exchange, someone gets hurt or killed, but not often the intended target.  Tarantino demonstrated this masterfully in Pulp Fiction. If you saw it, you know the scene.

All said, TMG loved State of Play and has seen it twice now. Good plot. Well acted. Edgy.  Think of All the Presidents Men a bit updated with a little more blood and guns. This is an enjoyable film to watch with your significant other, buddy or even teenagers.  If you missed it, go rent it.

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