Saturday, April 18, 2009

"State of Play" (2009) - Movie Review

A Congressman, a young lady killed, an experienced journalist, a rookie journalist, a commanding editor and a nice typical political king maker. You know what it is, the journalistic political thriller mastered in the “All the President’s Men” is taken as the inspiration for “State of Play” which is again developed from a six hour TV series ran in BBC. There are things which audience know of and expect of and are also ready to make the compromises for. That will be to swallow some spoilers of for the performance and shooting dialogues . Russell Crowe as that been-there-done-that journalist and an old friend of the Congressman (Ben Affleck) in the center of investigation is in his elements. We see him as the lousy junk food chunking pen man driving a car to a crime scene and his dealing with the cops and others. Then as the obvious of the suspenses comes out, it is like a long left chilled beer. We drink with the remembrance of its fresh chillness and the mind kicks us into the reality of its luke warm. And oh. you still drink the beer.

While critics talk about the “All the President’s Men”, there are couple of other successors in that league to provide that experience of journalism with the flair and failure it possesses in its passionate workers. “The Paper” will be the one which strikes me as this zeal it has for the profession and how it portrays it. It is in their nerves to prep some one for stories. Jobs which surface so closely and be a spectator and some time in the part of the system of horrendous crimes, it seasons the mind for that growing satellite for information and wariness. Journalism tops that chart and when there is such a surplus of information going through the congested and cellulose inflicted offices, there will be a day for a definite conflict of interest. Such is one for Cal. Cal shares a painful history with his buddy Congressman and his wife (Robin Wright Penn).

Hence when the rookie journalist blogger Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) comes in for information, he brings ego and care with the corrected precision for being a jerk to her. After that his door is knocked by his buddy for a crashing place as he is in the middle of the chaos of being accused of sex scandal whilst his passion for conducting an investigation in to the “evil” corporation handling the outsourced defense projects to become thick and rich.

So it is a no brainer right? The corporation plotting against this hero figure Congressman but we also know that such an apparent thing means things run deeper than that. This figure of thought does not run for Cal. He gets stuck now and then to expand the creaks of his freedom to his buddy. He in fact puts the whole investigation under the stains of the presence of Affleck’s character who is the subject of their investigation. The strains in their relationship is something which does not get clearly ventured on. The placing of a major cast as Congressman’s wife is another indication that things were happening between these three people of interest. The judgment of Cal in that should be nudged rather there is nothing of an enlightenment in between them. The idea to have those scenes to reflect the state of their mind in their day to day job is good but the execution of it is nothing less than a flat line.

“State of Play” of course is a film which would melt the times of the sitting people with dicy camera shots and close encounters with the chilling killer. It has the sleek and clinical approach towards its story which is of course a character for a conspiracy film. And with Russell Crowe being that seasoned worker who has been muddling the lines of good and evil, you see the good side of the evil. But that becomes a flaw. There are several instances where in the multiple interest of personal gain, media and corporate requirement to conceal and reveal information. The characters has only lines to express their discomfort but when the truth comes out, it rarely occurs for us that Cal would do the right thing. He holds the story but does not have the weight on the shoulders which generally characters like this carry around.

And who made Jason Bateman to take the role of sleazy PR pimp man? When I did not know who he was, his performance as the stoned disoriented but entertaining lawyer in “Smokin’ Aces” was the only saving grace for that horrible flick. He tries to pull something like that out here which is neither entertaining nor a serious twist to the story. He is the key to the puzzle and when it unlocks, the compromise for spoilers have already been used up. “State of Play” would definitely be a watchable film but does not take the heavy responsibility of character reflections in it.

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