THRILLER; 2hr 7min
STARRING: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, Helen Mirren
House call: from left, Crowe and Affleck
With rapid-fire dexterity, State of Play gets the ball rolling to the tune of two Washington, DC, shootings and one possible suicide. One man is dead, the second, shot by the same assailant, is comatose. Hours later, the assistant and mistress of a hotshot congressman (Affleck as Stephen Collins) dies on a train track. Off the bat, these incidents don’t seem connected. But The Washington Globe reporter Cal McAffrey (Crowe; Mirren is a steely wheeler-dealer as his boss) is willing to bet they are. He is also close to Collins and his wounded, angry wife (Wright Penn), which can’t help but taint his agenda. McAffrey is rumpled old-school, persistent and connected. His button-bright partner, Globe blogger Della Frye (McAdams), is a terrier. Which is just as well with multibillion-dollar stakes putting politics hand-in-glove with stop-at-nothing corporations.
Adapted from the 2003 BBC miniseries and directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland ), Play is a cool-headed, crafty, unguessable jigsaw. Slippery and intense, it calls every suspenseful shot with twists that keeps you thinking well beyond what looks like the point of no return.