Starring:Russell Crowe, Ban Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Jeff Daniels

Director:Kevin Macdonald

Writer(s):Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy

Cinemtography:Rodriego Pereto

Original Score:Alex Heffes

Running Time:127 Mins.

To say State of Play had a troubled road to the screen would be an understatement, initially set to star Fight Clubteam Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, it was hampered with a script written just prior to the writers strike, due to this Pitt dropped out citing issues with said script. Norton then followed suit as a delay in shooting meant his scheduling did not permit for his involvement. Leaving the producers high and dry, thankfully Russell Crowe came aboard to save the day, followed by Ben Affleck in the Norton role. Two none more different actors as replacements, I think you would agree.

With a history this troubled you would be right to be dubious, however Russell Crowe is undoubtedly a better actor than Pitt and as such we should be blessed that he replaced him. Bigger than ever crow is back to his best, all the usual journalist cliches are present and correct, the hard drinking, the scruffy misdemeanour, the devil may care attitude and the crusade for justice, by any means, these things though are all surface, beyond this lies a subtle and nuanced turn.

It is performances like Crowe’s here, as reporter Cal, that go unnoticed at awards season, because they are not real people and are far from grand-standing. I’d tip my hat to him for turning in one of the best and most accomplished turns of the year.

Sadly the same can’t be said of the starry support cast, Helen Mirren does very little other than say “tosser” a lot, which is fine because shes British, and a woman! Rachel McAdams holds her own against Crowe but is given very little to do other than play modern to Crowe’s doing things the old way. The only other stand out is a late and all too brief role for Jason Bateman, predictably very good Bateman gives a very serious film some lightness when it is needed, that’s not to say he can’t act his socks off like everyone else, just that he has the character to match.

And then there is Affleck,while he has seen his star on the rise, again, lately withHollywoodland and particularly in directing the outstanding Gone Baby Gone,he is very subtle here, to the point where he will barely register on considering the film afterwards. This is no bad thing, for the role of the senator was potentially a showy one, something which Affleck resists in doing. In contrast to this Macdonalds diretcion IS suitably showy, bringing the frantic pace here as he did in The Last King of Scotland. But for all that is good something is lacking, and despite a twist at the end it all seems rather predictable.


State of Play holds its own as a thriller akin to All The Presidents Men, if not in that standard for its flaws. Crowes performance alone makes this the film it is, just a shame it’s not better.