What is wrong with the world when a Zac Efron movie debuts in the number one spot? Well, I hope he enjoys it because the shelf life of a 'Tiger Beat' cover boy is about as long as it takes me to eat lunch.
Besides the opening of '17 Again' (the retelling of a tale that has been told a thousand times before within the last decade alone) a very serviceable grownup picture also opened. It starred Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck who for story purposes were supposed to have been college roommates which is probably the biggest flaw in the film considering that Crowe is eight years the elder of Afflect and looks it as well. Apparently Brad Pitt was supposed to play Congressman Stephen Collins, but bowed out due to problems with the script (some sites have suggested that 'State of Play' was a causality of the then going writer's strike). Robin Wright Penn plays the Congressman's wife which further emphasizes the age discrepancy. Other than that the film was a nice 'All the President's Men' sort of political thriller.
The story centers on a Blackwater (which has changed its name to Xe probably because it is now working for the Chinese government) like corporation that is plotting to be the primary beneficiary of government contracts for not only external military operations, but internal national policing as well - bye-bye FBI. Although I haven't seen any of the recent horror releases, this scenario appeared scarier to me because the likelihood of such a thing happening seemed very probable with the last administration. I mean come on, the Obama administration releases Bush Era memos about the use of torture and all the old guys have to say is that, "Oh no, now all the terrorists will know our techniques." Suffice to say I consider them all panty wastes or pantywaiste (take your pick) especially a certain ex who stated "This government does not torture people."
Russell Crowe is Cal McCaffrey, a newspaper reporter cast in the dying spirit of news print. Rachel McAdams is Della Smith, the new breed of reporter whose outreach is the blog sphere. Rounding out the acting troupe is Helen Mirren as a Katharine Graham sort of editor who must balance the decaying wisdom of old time news reporting with the profit margin the new corporate owners demand. All and all a pretty impressive list of performers. Lest I forget, Jason Bateman who has a small role as a 'life of the party bad guy' and Jeff Daniels as the Congressional Whip. A pre-Oscar nominated Viola Davis plays the medical examiner.
'State' is directed by Kevin Macdonald who also directed 'The Last King of Scotland.' The film is based on a British series of the same name from 2003 thus the writing credits are fairly long. I wouldn't say this film will be the best of the year but it wasn't stupid and it kept the action going. Obviously, it is an actor's movie and not a special effects offering, thus it will be as fun to watch it on DVD as in the theater. It was nice to see Crowe in a movie where he embraces his leading man status. He might have looked a bit scruffy, but he was still sexy.
I would recommend 'State of Play.' I think it makes a nice grownup date movie (the kind that might be on the endangered species list). It offers various topics of discussion afterwards. It had some nice twist and turns and the outcome wasn't predictable within the first ten minutes. Really the only thing it lacked was Zac Efron.
Westerfield © 2009