The Hunger Games return with such a sequel twist that you can't believe writer Suzanne Collins didn't think of film when writing. Catching Fire builds up with all types of subversive messaging which is interesting but also brings into relief the limitations of the genre and film.
When I first saw the trailer for state of play I thought to myself that I liked the cast and the story looks interesting enough but it was not a film I was going to rush to see. I have not seen the TV series it is based on so was completely in the dark as to what this was going to be like. I have now watched the DVD and I have got to say I wish I had seen it sooner. I generally like films based on journalism and this is a great journalism based film, where the star follows the leads to the truth.
The story sees Cal McAffrey, a reporter for the Washington Globe, arriving at a crime scene where two people have been shot under a bridge. He begins to investigate the two shootings, then in an unrelated matter the aid of his old college roommate dies in suspicious circumstances. As his friend the congressman comes to terms with the death another Globe reporter begins to dig into his affairs and begins to uncover some surprising information.
State of Play is a well crafted thriller and shows that Kevin Macdonald is a director to watch. Having seen the Last King of Scotland and not thinking that highly of it but it was a well made film. Macdonald uses the same skills here to shoot an engrossing story and it really is a pleasure to watch. The pacing is great and the with every twist in the story it keeps speeding along giving the viewer the sense of the unraveling threats leading to the truth. If the pacing was off you would really notice that the investigation would probably drag on certain issues but this is not the case.
As for the stars, they are great in their respective roles. Russel Crowe is well cast as the investigative reporter trying to get tot the truth no matter what, while also trying to help his friend. It was nice to see him in the reporter role, as having seen and really enjoyed his performance in The Insider where he was the source in an investigation, it makes a nice change.You get the sense that the character is self righteous and believes he is the only reporter still trying to get tot the truth. I got a similar vibe from the final series of The Wire. Crowe is just as you expect and is great to watch.
With the rest of the cast everyone seems to fit their roles well, especially Helen Mirren who I really liked in the role of editor in chief of the newspaper who wants to get the story but also has to worry about the paper not selling what it once did. Rachel McAdams was good as the up and coming reporter from the papers internet side. And Ben Affleck was great as the congressman in the middle of the story, he played the character superbly showing his outrage at some parts and his believably friendship between him and Crowes character.
State of Play alas is not perfect and the final part of the story seemed like it was rushed and needed more explanation. I cannot go into more details with out ruining the ending.
In conclusion State of Play is a well crafted and directed journalism thriller with some great performances and and a gripping story. I have no trouble recommending it to anyone looking for a good thriller.