A thrilling Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe political thriller has just hit Netflix and this one is definitely a movie worth watching.
State of Play is the 2009 thriller that offers some nice twists as it tells the story of Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) who is one of Washington’s rising stars with the complete package – handsome, intelligent, unflappable, and seemingly quite honorable. He is being looked at as his party’s next presidential nominee, even at his relatively young age. But then his research assistant, Sonia, is found dead by apparent suicide. This murder coincides with a thief being shot and killed the night before by a man carrying a briefcase and the deliveryman who witnessed the killing is also shot and left in a coma.
Now Collins’ sheen is beginning to fade. His research assistant, it turns out, was also his mistress. Ben Affleck’s Collins is leading an investigation into a private defense contractor called PointCorp who employs mercenaries. Collins then involves an old college roommate, friend, and investigative reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe). He explains to Cal that yes, he did have an affair with his research assistant, but she had left him a happy video message the morning of her death, so he feels her death was not a suicide.
Enter Della Frye (Rachel McAdams). She is another reporter, along with Cal, working for the Washington Globe. Dela discovers while investigating Sonia’s death, that it occurred in one of only three CCTV blind spots. Meanwhile, Cal discovers a link between the shootings and Sonia’s death. This is confirmed when Cal is approached by a homeless girl who gives him surveillance photos of Sonia talking to a well-dressed man.
Della then visits the deliveryman in the hospital as he is coming out of his coma. But before she can speak to him, he is killed by a sniper. As more information is revealed, Della and Cal find out that PointCorp stands to gain billions from the mercenary activities in the Middle East and in the U.S.
After the homeless girl turns up dead, Della is finally able to identify the well-dressed man in the photos. He is Dominic Foy (a rare non-comedic role for Jason Bateman) and he spills his guts about Sonia, about Collins, and about PointCorp.
There are plenty more secrets to be revealed. When Ben Affleck’s Collins casually tells Cal that Sonia, who was secretly working for PointCorp, how much she was being paid for her work, Cal knows Collins is in it deeper than he led on.
State of Play is a well-put-together political thriller. It’s a tight story, one that at times is familiar with some of the other political thrillers out there but offers enough tension and twists to be a worthy addition to the genre.
Both Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe dominate the screen. Their presence makes for a good watch, as does McAdams and Robin Wright Penn as Affleck’s wife. The cast is boosted with the addition of Jeff Daniels as well as the ever-dependable and lovely Helen Mirren.
State of Play was directed by Kevin Macdonald from a script co-written by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy, and Billy Ray. The film was based on the 2003 British television series of the same name which starred John Simm, David Morrissey, Kelly Macdonald, Bill Nighy, and James McAvoy.
The movie went over well with both critics and audiences alike. Niall Browne from Movies in Focus called State of Play “a classy piece of Hollywood filmmaking that delivers an entertaining two hours in the cinema and features enjoyable star performances from Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, and Rachel McAdams.” Mike Massie of Gone with the Twins also enjoyed the movie saying it “Makes investigative journalism feel as exciting, dangerous, brutal, and immoral as political corruption and corporate espionage.”
Both leading men, Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe, have seen their ups and downs in their careers. For Ben Affleck, State of Play came during a part of his career where things were going well. He was coming off of Hollywoodland, Smoking Aces, and He’s Just Not That Into You, then followed up State of Play with The Company Men, The Town, and his Oscar-winning film Argo.
Russell Crowe was also on a hot streak by the time State of Play came calling. He had 3:10 to Yuma, American Gangster, and Body of Lies in the bank before teaming up with Affleck, then followed that film with Robin Hood and The Next Three Days.
Even with their roller-coaster careers, both Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe remain box-office draws. Affleck has the much busier upcoming schedule with The Last Duel and his reunion with Matt Damon up next. He also has Deep Water, The Tender Bar, and the anticipated return as the Caped Crusader Batman in the now filming The Flash movie.
Russell Crowe also remains busy as his next feature will be The Georgetown Project. Crowe will also be jumping into the superhero genre as he is slated to play Zeus in Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder. For now, though, get on over to Netflix and give State of Play a try. You won’t be disappointed.