Russell Crowe must have loved his role in the excellent film American Gangster because he apparently decided to reprise it almost shot-for-shot in the new action/thriller State of Play directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), only this time instead of a by-the-books cop he is a not-so-by-the-books reporter piecing together the puzzle of a who killed whom and why feature. We even get what is essentially a remake of him driving around in an old car littered with garbage, just in case we couldn’t tell that he doesn’t make much money as a cop/reporter.
The story revolves around the murder of a young and beautiful (aren’t they all?) researcher working for Representative Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) while in the midst of a congressional oversight hearing pertaining to the potential shady operations of the company known as PointCorp. Young Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) is brought into the story along side Crowe for not much more than eye-candy, though I suppose she fits into the story a bit more somewhere, I just didn’t care to think about how.
This movie is old news. It has been done many times before. I don’t want to brag here, believe me, but I knew 90% of how this one would end about 30% of the way in, and I really don’t mean to brag because I can only assume that most of you will too.
Crowe is fine and Affleck is ok as well, but this script simply lacks any creativity. You’ll be asking yourself constantly while viewing what other movies this feels like, because there will be a lot. This film is fine for what it is, in a vacuum, as a drama/thriller with a reasonable length, reasonable dialogue, and, though completely undeveloped, a reasonable script. Obviously the intent was to play off of all the political scandals we see on TV and as well as the corruption of power in government, etc, but clearly this is just a bang you over the head filler film for this time of the year.
It’s probably slightly better than a lot that is out there at the moment, but simply put, wait it out for the (hopefully) better movies that should be out shortly.
** 1/2 out of 5
Clarification of my new rating system moving forward on all reviews:
* = Unwatchable and completely absurd/terrible/stay away/do not watch
** = Not very good. Maybe a stretch or two with some worthwhile moments, but overall trash
*** = Passable. Average. You might say you liked it or kind of liked it.
**** = Ok, now we’re talking. Script and acting in place and the movie does not fail
***** = Must see. All around great film.