It seems that less and less, films are being made for the able-minded, thinking, adult filmgoer, while our cinemas are clogged with mindless eye candy and coma inducing special effect bores that still rake in the box office because as a whole the general public loves to escape, even if that escape is mediocre at best. Amidst all the drivel that has come out this year there have been a few gems, some got recognition and others fell by the wayside. “State of Play” was one of those great films that came and went in theaters and only a select lucky few caught it; I was not one of them. Thanks to DVD however, I’ve been treated to one of the smartest and well-written political thrillers I’ve seen in years. More after the jump.
I’ve always like political thrillers and been drawn to big governmental cover-up films, but for the life of me I can’t remember a single memorable one in the last five years (after writing this I’m sure I will scour the internet and find a few, but right now they are escaping me). “State of Play” comes as a breath of fresh air and a reboot to my brain cells that have been pummeled all summer by boring, dumb, and loud blockbuster masturbation fests (I’m talking to you Mr. Bay). The film has tension and a lightning pace, but very little “action” in the Hollywood sense. Instead it relies on good old fashioned scandals and intrigue in the politics of our country, with great writing and phenomenal acting.
“State of Play” follows Cal McCaffrey (Russell Crow) and Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) both investigative reporters for the Washington Post as they dive deeper and deeper into the death of an assistant to Representative Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck). An affair between the two comes out, as well as two dead bodies at the hands of a highly trained killer in an alley, and a privatized military organization that could be pulling all the strings. Nothing is what it seems, no one is safe, and around every turn there is new evidence to be found out.
All the pieces of this film fit together in top-notch form. The writing, co-written by Tony Gilroy (who wrote a little trilogy with some guy named Jason Bourne you may have seen and “Michael Clayton”) and tense direction by Kevin MacDonald (director of “The Last King of Scotland”) as well as an all-star cast of master thespians all add to the film’s overall appeal. There isn’t a weak link in this twisted chain of politics and murder. Ben Affleck proves nay-sayers wrong again with a fantastic performance as a senator grappling with the moral and political ramifications of what is going on. Russell Crowe is in full form as a sloppy investigative reporter that doesn’t always think of his own safety when following a lead. Rachel McAdams is incredibly charming and fun to watch as the newbie Internet blog reporter that teams up with Crowe. Helen Mirren plays a great hard ass newspaper editor and Jason Bateman stops by to play a kinky PR rep that comes under interrogation by Crowe’s crew in a scene that shows his dramatic chops (usually he is the master of dry straight man comedy and it’s nice to see his vulnerability in this role).
If you’re tired of feeling like you’re being called “stupid” every time you go see the next “big summer movie” (there are some great ones don’t get me wrong, I’m talking about the CGI fodder) then do yourself and your brain a favor and check out “State of Play” on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s an incredible film.
Deleted Scenes- inconsequential, but at least they included them on the DVD to give Robin Wright Penn a little more screen time.
Making of- an 18 minute featurette about how the film was adapted from the British mini-series and translated to an American audience