State Of Play (2009)

KEVIN MACDONALD

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBB

USA/United Kingdom/France, 2009.  Universal Pictures, Working Title Films, StudioCanal, Relativity Media, Andell Entertainment.  Screenplay by , , , based on the television series by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Russell Crowe is a frumpy journalist of the old-school variety who is perpetually annoyed by snappy new member of the team Rachel McAdams.  They cross paths when he investigates a murder of a street kid and she the accidental death of a senator’s aide who died in a subway accident. Connections begin to appear between the cases and get even trickier when the squeaky clean senator () who is a member of the committee for deciding government spending on defense weapons turns out to have been having an affair with the woman. The clues peel away one by one and provide for a dense, intelligent thriller that thanks to a plodding pace is a far cry from the quality of better films like Fair Game or even the Bourne films; what this one is missing is not action scenes, but a sense of urgency. The two-hour plus running time feels like it takes a lot longer to complete as director Kevin Macdonald focuses on far too many unnecessary plot details and fails to coax strong enough performances from the weaker members of the cast to really carry it over.  McAdams is still trying too hard to be taken seriously and is no match for the effectively subtle Crowe, while Affleck has all the intensity of a wet match. It’s a shame there aren’t more scenes with a blistering Helen Mirren as the newspaper editor who is trying to print a good story while keeping the suits (who are only motivated by profit) happy. Based on the 2003 miniseries by Paul Abbott.

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