By Chase Kahn
State of Play is a comfortable and easy-to-take politically charged journalist thriller that entertains and cuts in the predictable ways yet elevates itself with its investigation of the old-school bulldog, notepad-and-paper journalism versus the new-age cleanly spontaniety of internet media.
Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) and Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) represent these two sides of journalistic idealogies teaming up to uncover corporate devilry and the death of a congressional worker who was having an affair with co-worker and Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck). Along with a good turn by Affleck, the entire supporting cast comes to play -- Helen Mirren as a Washington Globe editor and Jason Bateman as a smarmy public relations rep are especially good.
Crowe, like the film, is predictable, which isn't to say he's not good here. There wasn't an aspect of his performance that I haven't seen from him before or that I wasn't expecting going in -- for what it is and for what kind of film this is, he's fine and ditto for his co-star Rachel McAdams. Cute and passable, she fills the role well. At a point where newspapers like the New York Times are soon to be extinct, this a film that rings as a timely, appropriate portrait.
State of Play is just perfectly watchable as a thriller, but as a swan song to an age where uncovering the truth and getting your hands dirty was more important than quarterly profits and microblogging, it's downright tragic.