State of Play: An Underrated Thriller

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State of Play: An Underrated Thriller

What happens when you cast Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, and Helen Mirren in a political thriller? You get a great movie. In State of Play, Russell Crowe plays the role of Cal McAffrey a hard-nosed journalist who is willing to push the envelope to get to the bottom of a story. The film starts off with Cal investigating the death of an aide to Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck). Collins is an old friend of McAffrey’s. The slow disintegration of the relationship between McAffrey and Collins is a focal point of the movie. Eventually, the death of Collins’ aid (who was also his mistress) and several other murders are tied back to the congressman and a conspiracy involving private military contractor Point Corp. In the end, thanks to McAffrey’s reporting, Congressman Collins is arrested and Point Corp’s plot is foiled.

I am a big fan of political movies so, consequently, I really enjoyed State of Play. The acting is fantastic and, while confusing at times, the plot is engaging in a “slow burn” kind of way. Despite just being ten years old, so many things about this movie feel old fashioned. For one, the newspaper industry is on its last legs. Unfortunately, there are very few old school reporters like Cal McAffrey chasing around news stories these days. Investigative journalism is essential to our democracy as it helps keeps those in power in check. As newspapers die off, so too does accountability for politicians. Another aspect of this movie that feels old fashioned is the genre of movie itself. Studios don’t really make smart political thrillers anymore. Instead, they opt to make big budget blockbusters like superhero movies that are sure to attract large audiences to theaters. Hopefully streaming services like Netflix and Amazon can revive the political thriller genre…


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