State of Play 2009 Movie Scene Russell Crowe as journalist Cal McAffrey working at his desk on a big story about a congressman and his murdered aide

State of Play [2009]

I probably told you this already but I have about 100 movies ready to go on any given night. I’m not bragging or anything, that’s just how things are. Depending on how I’m feeling on that particular night and what I’m in the mood for, I make my selection. What I’ve noticed is that on certain nights I simply cannot watch anything that requires even the slightest effort on my part. I don’t want to think what that movie meant back then or what it means now, after many years. I don’t want to look for symbolism or hidden messages. What I want to do is watch a good movie that’s going to keep my attention for ninety minutes. And I’m even willing to accept those with a bit longer running time if they have a good vibe about them. 

State of Play is a compelling political thriller, an all-around good movie featuring an excellent cast, storytelling, and pretty much everything else. Although I classified it as a political thriller, there’s much more to it than that. The story follows Cal McAffrey, a journalist at the Washington Globe, who starts connecting the dots between two vicious murders, congressmen, the military-industrial complex, and a whole lot of other bad actors. The movie State of Play is actually an adaption of an award-winning BBC television show of the same name. And it’s not based on actual events as writer Paul Abbott came up with the plot all on his own. Of course, writers Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy, and Billy Ray added a couple of changes to this adaptation. 

So, if you’re looking for a cool little mini-series (6 episodes, 1 hour each), the original State of Play is a great choice. When it comes to the movie we’re talking about today, it has a seventies political thriller vibe updated to today’s standards. We can see how the Internet is slowly but surely devouring the printed press. Moreover, we can see and feel how the approach changes. It changes from a more comprehensive one to one oriented towards clicks, sensationalism, and speed. And this is 2009 we’re talking about, things got much worse since then. Moving on, the opening scene grabs your attention thrusting this murder mystery upon you. 

And then it slowly starts to pull back the curtain, immersing you further into this high-stakes plot with huge real-world implications. I remember writing a couple of weeks ago about Crimson Tide, a movie we almost saw play out in real life. And I fear that the same goes for the movie we’re talking about today. State of Play features one hell of a cast led by dependable Russel Crowe. With his long hair and messy appearance he looks, acts, and feels like a real journalist. And this is not me saying this, this is real journalists saying this. And to imagine that Brad Pitt was originally attached to the role. We also have Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, and Ben Affleck who were just as good. 

The supporting cast is just as strong featuring such actors as Jeff Daniels, Jason Bateman, and Robin Wright. I told you motherfuckers, this is one of those big, gripping thrillers that requires zero effort to be enjoyed. Just hit that play button and let this movie take you into the world we know exists but hear little about. In that sense, I was quite taken aback by some of the twists, and there will be some pretty nifty twists. They reveal the true nature of not just politics and the corporate world but of our society. 

Again, I say society but what I really mean is certain individuals who operate without a moral compass. All of this makes State of Play a highly thought-provoking movie you can feel free to recommend to your friends. And, of course, discuss afterward, probably telling them I told you so. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like this one, I first recommend you check out a couple of seventies classics. All The President’s Men and Network are both great choices. Then you can move on to The InsiderKill the Messenger, and Target Number One. I also have to mention Broken City since it stars Russel Crowe but in a bit different role. 

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy, Billy Ray

Cast: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright, Jason Bateman,

Fun Facts: In the original British mini-series, the oil company was one of the major players instead of the private military contracting company like in this movie.


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