This is a political/newspaper thriller that sits comfortably among the genre's greats. Based on the 2003 TV series starring John Simm, David Morrissey and Bill Nighy, 'State of Play' sees an Irish-American journalist (Crowe) go to bat for his troubled politician friend (Affleck) when a suspicious death causes a scandal, threatening both his world and the foundations of a corporate empire. Crowe's Cal fights to get to the truth, while struggling with his own professional battle as the newspaper world migrates online.
Award-winning 'The Last King of Scotland' director Kevin Macdonald returns to the big screen with another riveting film. Not only does he invite audiences on a relentless thriller-ride - revealing a political and corporate minefield - but he also skilfully tackles the ongoing newspaper versus online debate.
If there are still any Affleck doubters left after 'Hollywoodland', his latest performance will reassure film fans that his 'Jersey Days' are behind him. Crowe once again morphs into his latest character, Cal - the dedicated investigative journo who lives to work. However, Cal steps into unfamiliar territory when he allows his personal life to interfere with the story. When he crosses media boundaries and mixes friends with sources he disappoints the women in his life: his editor (Mirren) and mentee (McAdams). The female characters are well-written, strong and modern roles, allowing Mirren and McAdams to step away from clichéd stereotypes labelled by sexual relations.
As far as thrillers go, unpredictability cannot be overrated and 'State of Play' certainly delivers. Yet in a bid to avoid the banal, Macdonald leans towards the other extreme with a twist too many.
While 'State of Play' may not be a ringer for the father of newspaper thrillers, 'All the President's Men', and is less thriller-ish than cousin 'Zodiac', they're certainly related.