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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

STATE OF PLAY (2009)

Ever since NO WAY OUT/’87 was allegedly ‘saved’ with a final twist that made mincemeat of the whole plot, political-thrillers have been wrapping things up with one revelation too many. So it goes with this generally involving remake of a six-part British mini-series. The story has moved to D.C., and the subject now centers on corrupt military contracts, but the most intriguing element in the film is only glanced at, the newly evolving pecking order between print & on-line journalism. It gets lost in the inexperienced hands of megger Kevin Macdonald who’s busy enough keeping all the plot-lines straight between chases, hitmen, rub-outs and various journalism tropes ripped less from today’s headlines than from ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN/’76. Sporting an unwashed pageboy as the ink-stained reporter, Russell Crowe gives one of his better recent perfs, but Rachel McAdams makes little contact with her ‘Junior Miss’ on-line reporter. Helen Mirren’s tough-guy editor hasn’t enough screen time to compete with Bill Nighy’s priceless perf in the mini-series. (Hey, who cast an Aussie, a Canadian & a Brit in these key roles?) As married politicos, Robin Wright & Ben Affleck do little for themselves or each other, but Jeff Daniels makes a meal out of his few scenes as a power-broker Congressman. Sounds like a lot of demerits, but it does hold you . . . right up to that double-helix trick ending.

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