Monday, April 20, 2009

A State Of Play Brings Down One Of It's Own

Movies about the high jinks of Washington politics are a Hollywood favorite, some are better than others while some remain a mystery. Hollywood has this idea that when they make mysteries they have to spell out everything or the viewers will not understand, this is like a connect the dots movie, we are lead to each clue one at a time, in a reasonable order, its an idea of major studios that we will walk out unhappy if the bad guy gets away, so instead we are given paint by number movies where the good guy wins and the surprises are few and far between. The only mystery here is the mystery of why this movie was even made. In "State Of Play" the story is a little of both, it is made to showcase the stars talents but not to make the viewer think to hard.

On the morning of a new Congressional hearing led by popular congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) his investigation's lead Research Assistant Sonia Baker (Maria Thayer) falls in front of a train on her way to the hearings. Also, a petty thief is gunned down in an alley, along with a man delivering pizza, how they are connected no one can see, YET. A news reporter for the Washington Globe, Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), is investigating the shooting when he hears about the congressional aides death. Being an old college roommate of Congressman Collins, the Globes foul mouthed editor, Cameron Lynne (Helen Miren) wants McAffrey on the story bad, she tries to backdoor him by sending the Washington Globe's blogger newbie, a recent college grad, Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) to question McAffrey about his former dorm buddy Congressman Collins. Congressman Collins is taking a high-profile position as a champion against a private corporation called PointCorp which will have taps on the entire workings of American phones, e-mails, and all private information. It appears to be very clear right from the start who is behind the death of both the aide and the thief, how they tie in is STILL a mystery.

Of course there is conflict between the two friends, it seems McAffrey has slept with Anne Collins (Robin Wright Penn). McAffrey begins to look into this story when Congressman Collins comes to his apartment and tells him, that yes the two were sleeping together, but he thinks that if he gets out in front of the story he will be ok. McAffrey gets Della to join him into looking into the story, Della goes to the hospital where the third shooting victim is now waking up, the guy who was delivering pizza's and was shot, is a pivotal witness. She walks into his room when shots are fired through the window killing the pizza driver as he lies in the bed. Stephen goes to Rep. George Fergus (Jeff Daniels) for help, Fergus is the man who handles scandals on the hill. As McAffrey and Della get more facts about the case, they realize that there is a structured network of former soldiers that have been trained into a mercenary group-for-hire and now are employed by a division of the corporation Collins is questioning in Congress. The man responsible for the killings, Robert Bingham (Michael Berresse) is getting closer to both reporters.

When McAffrey goes to question a man he thinks is on the inside, he is met by Bingham, running to the buildings garage, WHY does the guy who is running away always run where its enclosed and dark? McAffrey is chased and fired on by Bingham, of course since he is the good guy he escapes. Going to the police with some information, now that Vernon Sando (Dan Brown), has been killed. Det. Donald Bell (Harry Lennix) thinks that the reporters wasted his time. Not only did they endanger themselves, but because they hid the information, the pizza driver is now dead. McAffrey gets a Pointcorp Ad Executive, Dominic Foy (Jason Bateman) to give up some information about Sonia and Stephen, that rocks what the reporters thought was going on. Getting Stephen to commit his story to the paper, McAffrey thinks it's now over, that the story will break about Pointcorp, and the company will stop trying to kill everyone. When Stephen comes in and the story comes out, McAffrey and Anne share a minute alone, when Della and McAffrey are done writing the story they meet and share a couple drinks, they are talking about the case when something Anne said crashes through the muck in McAffrey's brain.

Now he knows who is behind the killing and he thinks he knows why, McAffrey knows that Bingham is the killer, but now he knows who sent him out, he confronts the man and tells him that he knows the truth, that he has to turn himself in or that McAffrey will call the police. When McAffrey leaves the building and is walking to his car he is surprised to find himself confronted by Bingham. The police arrive in time to save McAffrey, and make the arrests to close the case.

This movie does bring to mind the Watergate story, and looks like all the other Hollywood Newsroom type movies, yet I still give State Of Play a 3 and on my avoidance scale a 1, there are better movies coming, so wait a few weeks and catch this one at your leisure in your home.

State Of Play is rated PG-13 for some Violence, Language Including A Sexual References, and Brief Drug Use
Running time is 1 hr. 58 mins.

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