Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    BLURAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)

    Russell Crowe as CAL MCAFFREY
    Ben Affleck as STEPHEN COLLINS
    Rachel McAdams as DELLA FRYE
    Helen Mirren as CAMERON LYNNE
    Robin Wright Penn as ANNE COLLINS
    Jason Bateman as DOMINIC FOY
    Jeff Daniels as GEORGE FERGUS

    Rated PG-13
    Studio: Universal

    Directed by: Kevin MacDonald

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Based on the 2003 BBC miniseries of the same name, “State of Play” follows Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), a squeaky-clean congressman who is heading an investigation of a corporate giant. One morning, his assistant is found dead, sparking media reports that they were having an affair. Washington Globe writer Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), an old friends of Collins’, spearheads an investigation at the paper. Along for the ride with McAffrey is Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), a young and eager internet journalist at the Globe. Together, they are able to uncover parts of a conspiracy that puts McAffrey’s old friend in the center of a heated political scandal.

In general, I like a good political thriller, and we’ve had a few stumbles in that arena lately. However, “State of Play” seems to fly through a tight story with an even keel. Before I saw the film in the theaters, I didn’t have a chance to see the original BBC drama, but I have seen that since, and as an American remake, it holds up.

Of course, the film version is spiced up considerably for American audiences, but the essence of the story stays the same. It’s been updated a bit, not just for American politics but also for American journalism. One of my favorite parts of this movie is the fact that is acknowledges the impact that online journalism is having on old-school print hounds. Does it come to the right conclusions about the battle in the end? Not necessarily, but it’s one of the first times I’ve seen an old school story give the online world the credit it deserves.

When I wrote a positive review for this film in the spring, a fellow writer (who happened to have worked in the DC political arena) took me to task because the movie is not accurate to internal politics of the nation’s capital. Moreover, he chastised me because I said that I enjoyed the realism. Well, he’s right in that I don’t have any idea how things really work in that town, so I will respectfully acknowledge my ignorance. But just because I don’t have a law degree doesn’t make me appreciate seemingly realistic courtroom dramas.

Ultimately, “State of Play” is a pretty solid thriller with some good twists and a very solid cast.

Whether “State of Play” is accurate to inside the beltway life is irrelevant. It puts on a really good show, and isn’t that what politics (and to a certain degree, journalism) is all about?

There were only two major problems I had with this movie. The first was the fact that it ran a bit long, which is understandable considering the BBC miniseries was more than twice as long. There was a lot to condense in the film and, for the most part, they did a decent job.

However, the many storylines from the miniseries are what caused my other problem. There’s a lot of screen time devoted to a side story about McAffrey having a former relationship with Collins’ wife (Robin Wright Penn). I was bored during these scenes, and they were ultimately extraneous to the slimmed down American version.

The “State of Play” Blu-ray includes deleted scenes, a lengthy making-of documentary and access to Universal’s BD-Live center online. There’s also two nicely integrated U-Control features. One is a look at the Washington DC locations of the film. The other is a picture-in-picture selection that includes interviews with the cast and crew and behind-the-scenes footage.

Fans of political thrillers, especially those who still read a newspaper on a regular basis.

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