Thursday, August 27, 2009

State of Play DVD



DVD Review by Kam Williams


Headline: Russell Crowe Political Potboiler Comes to DVD


            This is a flick with a transparent, political agenda posing as an edge-of-your-seat thriller. The movie is basically a thinly-veiled indictment of elected officials who put their services up for sale to lobbyists offering the biggest bribes. The story revolves around Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) who is carrying on a clandestine affair with a young assistant named Sonia Baker (Maria Thayer).

Events unfold in spectacular fashion with a couple of slayings on the streets of Washington, D.C. by a cold-blooded assassin (Michael Berresse). Right on the heels of these killings, Sonia dies in the subway under mysterious circumstances which the coroner rules a suicide in a rush to judgment.

A local newspaper takes more of an interest in cracking the case than the cops, and they seem to have more resources at their disposal. Editor-in-chief Cameron Lynne assigns seasoned veteran Cal McAffrey and cub reporter Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) to head the investigation.

What naïve Della doesn’t know is that her partner was Congressman Collins’ roommate in college. What’s more, the two are still best friends, and Cal’s been double-crossing his buddy by sleeping with his estranged wife, Anne (Robin Wright Penn). More importantly, he is soon hot on the trail of the prime suspect, and the deeper he digs, the more proof he uncovers of a murder-for-hire scheme orchestrated by a company trying to corner the Homeland Security industry.

A lot gets conflated when you condense a TV miniseries to a two-hour adaptation, which is what we have with State of Play, a conveniently-incestuous screen version of the original BBC production. That being said, director Kevin MacDonald definitely has a flair for the dramatic and a knack for keeping his audience perched on the edge of its seat, even if he tends to on distracting red herrings to achieve that cattle-prod, over-stimulation effect.

            A heck of a roller coaster ride, even if the rabbit-out-of-the-hat resolution is likely to leave you feeling a little bit cheated. Sometimes, getting there is all the fun.


Very Good (3 stars)

Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, sexual references and brief drug use. 

Running time: 127 minutes

Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

DVD Extras: “The Making of” featurette.

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