Plot summary (with possible spoilers): One night in Washington, D.C., one person is injured and another killed in two seemingly unrelated attacks. The next morning, congressional aide Sonia Baker (played by Maria Thayer) is killed by a Metro train in what at first glance appears to be a suicide. But veteran Washington Globe reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) thinks that there might be a connection — especially after he learns from staff blogger Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) that Baker was actually the mistress of Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck).
The timing of these events is suspect for one big reason: Rep. Collins is currently heading a commission investigating the doings of a private security firm called Pointcorp, which is vying for some $40 billion in government contracts. It was widely believed that Collins was set to expose a bunch of wrongdoings on the part of Pointcorp, but now that he has to deal with the death of Baker and the public outing of his affair, as wife Anne (Robin Wright Penn) looks on, there’s speculation that Collins might remove himself from the committee.
Cal has a personal connection with Collins: the two were college roommates and remain friends even now. So he starts investigating the story as a personal favor to Collins, against the better judgment of his editor Cameron Lynne (Helen Mirren). But the more Cal — and Della, who refuses to be left out of the action — uncover, the more they realize that the plot is deeper and more twisted than it appears to be on the surface.
My Reaction: I thought State of Play was a decent thriller, better than some of the movies in this genre that I’ve seen recently. I have to admit that I couldn’t figure out the twist by the end, and though I started to believe that Collins knew more than he was letting on, I didn’t realize he was hiding knowledge of Sonia’s connection to PointCorp all along.
Also, at the end, the newspapers were printing headlines about Collins being implicated in several murders. But just how exposed was Collins regarding those events? No one really had any hard evidence that Collins
I thought the acting in this film was pretty good, but I had trouble accepting that Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck were supposed to have been roommates in college. I’m not sure about actual ages, but Crowe looks easily 10 years older than Affleck, so this point was hard to swallow. Robin Wright Penn was also obviously older than Affleck, and while the younger man/older woman marriage dynamic didn’t bother me in itself, I was bothered by the fact that Penn was also supposed to have been in college at the same time as Crowe and Affleck.
Overall, I liked State of Play well enough while I was watching it. The film moved along pretty quickly, and was intriguing enough to keep my interest throughout. After coming home and thinking about it, however, I’m noticing a few flaws that I wish would have been addressed by the writers. Still, I think this movie is worth watching, and I give it 3 stars out of 5.