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Movie Review: State of Play

Alternate Title: Collateral Damage

Story: I am a sucker for tension filled political thrillers that focus on investigative reporters. Throw in murder (or was it suicide?), dead junkies, incriminating photos, adultery, corporate corruption and Government conspiracy and I am sitting in the front row. This film has a lot going for it (if you forget about the ending). It was directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) written by Matthew Michael Carnahan (The Kingdom), Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, The Bourne Trilogy) and Billy Ray (Shattered Glass), and is based on the BBC television series created by Paul Abbott.

Up and coming PA Congressman Stephen Collins' aide dies in a mysterious accident. She was head researcher of Collins' investigation into PointCorp's (think Haliburton) attempts to make billions in the privatization of the Homeland Security Department. Reporter Cal McAffrey, who happens to be Collins' college roommate starts digging as does blogger Della Frye. The digging turns up lots of juicy scandal, conspiracies and incidental characters.

This movie is an old fashioned thriller. You are really pretty sure what to expect around the next corner but are nervous anyway. The editing, camera angles, dark shadows, gloomy parking garages and scary characters all add up to lots of action and thrills. The side story about the prospects for the newspaper business was semi-documentary in its reality. Government in bed with corporations fell into this realm as well.

Despite the fact that I did not believe the plot twisting ending (and was disappointed), I can recommend this film for its good production values, acting and surely not a waste of your time or money.

Check out the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH6SAvCD_kM

Here is the trailer for the original BBC six hour TV series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EL9AMuVvqMI

Acting: Russell Crowe as Cal McAffrey is rumpled, pudgy and always on target. Ben Affleck as Stephen Collins, could have been played by anybody. Rachel McAdams as blogger Della Frye was unimpressive and not in the same league with the other actors. Robin Wright Penn as Anne Collins, is always good. Jason Bateman as sleazy Dominic Foy was delicious. Jeff Daniels as Senator George Fergus was fine and the wonderful Helen Mirren as Cameron Lynne stole the film with the best lines.

Trivia: Rachel McAdams is an on again off again vegetarian. She is co-founder of www.greenissexy.org, a web site which helps raise awareness about the environment. John Mostel, son of Zero Mostel started off as a boy soprano for the Metropolitan Opera.

Predilection: I like tension filled political thrillers.

Critters: None

Food: Mashed potatoes, chili and lots of coffle and booze.

Sex Spectrum: None

Blatant Product Placement: Ben's Chili, Corrados

Opening Titles: A short chase/ and murder sequence followed by the film's title. All other credits at the end of the film.

Visual Art: Washington DC looked mighty scary.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I paid attention throughout. If you drift you will get lost.

Predictability Level: High until the disappointing ending.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: I always prefer the big screen but you could probably get by with a rental. While you are renting, All the President's Men is the best newspaper thriller I ever saw.

Length: Two hours