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State of Play
DVD disk
09.01.2009 By: Jason Adams
State of Play order download
Director:
Kevin MacDonald

Actors:
Russell Crowe
Ben Affleck
Rachel McAdams

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A reporter inadvertently becomes involved in Washington D.C.’s latest scandal when his best friend, a star Congressman, is romantically linked to a murdered aide. And the deeper he digs, the more secrets the journalist uncovers.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I will say; there are very few times when replacing Edward Norton with Ben Affleck doesn’t automatically ruin a movie beyond repair. If anything, the cast of STATE OF PLAY is so good, I can’t picture anybody but Affleck playing scandal-ridden Senator Stephen Collins. And it’s not everyday you can say that.

Based on the critically acclaimed BBC miniseries of the same name, STATE OF PLAY feels a little familiar as far as paranoid political thrillers go, but it’s so nicely executed—well written, compelling and rich—with a stellar set of actors that it’s easy to get engrossed in the story. Even if you think you know what happens (and it might be easy to predict), in the end the ride getting there is still worth it. The move from London to the U.S. capital is seamless, and the current American political climate fits nicely with the story. With all the backstabbing, secrets and lies, it fits almost too well.

Director Kevin MacDonald (LAST KING OF SCOTLAND) puts together a strong cast, including Russell Crowe, Affleck, Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, Jeff Daniels and even Jason Bateman. No one slums it here, with good performances all around, even if some of the roles are on the smaller side. (I especially wish Mirren had been given more to do.) The script by Matthew Michael Carnahan definitely helps, with a quick pace, snappy dialogue and very little fat to cut.

I should mention that they filmed STATE OF PLAY on location where I live in D.C., with the city being as much an integral character as Crowe or Affleck. And while I definitely got a kick out of seeing Bud White and Holden McNeil shoot in my favorite hangouts, I still would’ve dug the movie otherwise.
THE EXTRAS
Deleted Scenes (3:39): Two short extended scenes, including the full press conference with Affleck and his wife.

Making of STATE OF PLAY (18:44): A little more in depth than your average behind the scenes piece, with some nice interviews and background from cast and crew.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
STATE OF PLAY doesn’t overcome what you expect from the political thriller genre, but with such a great cast and script, it doesn’t stop it from being an engaging and enjoyable movie.

Extra Tidbit: In addition to Affleck replacing Norton, Brad Pitt was originally cast as Cal McAffrey before Russell Crowe. That means we were this close to a Tyler Durden/Narrator FIGHT CLUB reunion.
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