Friday, May 8, 2009
State of Play
What would happen if All the President's Men and The Bourne Identity had a baby? Well, it would be called State of Play and it would be a dang good watch. This 2009 thriller is by Kevin MacDonald (no, not the one from the Kids in the Hall), who has brought us great features like the Last King of Scotland and fantastic documentaries like Touching the Void. This time it's a classic uncover the truth before it's too late, whodunnit suspense movie. It starts with a 'newsworthy' scandal that's really just more DC gossipy smearing. In fact, they only assign it to the 'blog' department and a very young new reporter there, played very well by the beautiful Rachel McAdams. But suddenly, seasoned senior reporter Cal McAffrey, the classic kind of reporter that lives out of his car, never seems to sleep and everyone in town knows by name, begins to suspect there may be much more to this story than meets the eye of the average blog reader. Cal is played by Russel Crowe, who is simply fantastic and has almost never seemed more natural. You see the scandal is that a junior Congressman, played to mediocre heights by Ben Affleck, seems far to distraught over the sudden death of a researcher he's hired for recent Congressional hearings, which leads everyone to believe that they were having an affair. Well, they're right. That's the story, but Cal thinks that someone from Pointcorp (the defense contractor that the Congressman was investigating) may have killed her to cover something up. And off they go, trying desperately to uncover the 'real' story before the papers hit the news stand the next morning. This movie starts out feeling like it's going to be pretty good, but pretty typical, but by the end I can almost guarantee you'll be sucked in and wrapped up in the thick tension. The movie is about this mystery, but it's also about the present state of journalism, about the use of private contractors in military action, the two different worlds of the older guard of reporters and the young new blogger version, and so on. In short, it's a straight story that is riddled with interesting subplots. The pacing is great (remember how I said you'll be sucked in before you even realize it) but the real treat of this flick is that every little performance is top notch. All of the main's are really great (with the exception of Affleck) but these primary performances are met by the secondary players with ease. It's amazing, even the medical examine, who has one scene, is played by an Oscar nominee. It's like everyone wanted to be in this movie. So much so that every single last speaking role is played by a seasoned fantastic actor. I suppose the most notable smaller roles were those of Robin Penn, Jeff Daniels and Helen Mirren. Though I also have to give props to the hilarious performance of Jason Bateman and the super creepy performance by veteran stage actor Michael Berresse, who plays one of the scariest assassins I've seen on screen. All great. If you feel like paying for some well delivered tension, this is your movie. Enjoy.