Opening the stage for a fresh, unpredictable thriller, a petty thief snatches a purse and darts away. Just as he thinks he’s escaped his pursuers, scooting outside his hiding place between trashcans, a mystery man shoots him.
This murder, followed closely by another death, sets up the scene for a fast-paced story line in “State of Play.”
Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) finds out his mistress, and head of his research team, has allegedly committed suicide. During a Congressional hearing investigating a mercenary military contractor, Stephen breaks down while relaying the news, sending the media into a frenzy.
Jump-starting a string of allegations against him regarding his relationship with the woman, Stephen’s old college roommate and journalist, Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), begins to unravel the story.
Cal begins with the simple aim of trying to find the truth behind the woman’s death, but as twists develop and conspiracies are uncovered, he delves deeper into the workings of the military company.
A member of an exceptional cast of well-seasoned actors, Cal is placed opposite a determined junior reporter Della Frye (Rachel McAdams). As Cal begins his investigations, he tries to squander Della’s tabloid-like political blogging style.
Cal and Della’s hatred soon develops into a teamwork that furthers the story line, playing off the seasoned reporter who is consistently second-guessed by the rookie.
Crowe expertly portrays the scrappy journalist with a crude sense of humor, who is determined to out-hustle the cops assigned to the case.
McAdams’ character staunchly follows Cal, analyzing his every move but adding the charisma and innocence needed in a new reporter. Her ability to move between scenes and cope with everything thrown at her as a reporter emphasizes her adaptation skills as an actress.
A hopeful but used politician, Affleck portrays a perfect rendition of a man aiming for a higher office with no regard with what people do to him or how he achieves his goals.
He and several members of his party have been investigating the military company, which seems like a project to gain Stephen more notoriety than anything else.
With this twist thrown in, Cal must search through piles of lies and stereotypical views of backstabbing politicians.
The complex script precisely jumps from one scene to the next, drawing viewers along a suspenseful path overflowing with conspiracy. And when story seems concluded, a twist connects another lie, another mistake that draws the “truth-seekers” into even more treacherous territory.
With a very well written and refreshingly unfamiliar script with an extremely adept cast, “State of Play” does not disappoint.
Staff writer Kelly Bleck can be reached at email@example.com.