State of Play


Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36

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Critic Reviews

  1. It neither embarrasses the original, nor is superior to it in any way.
  2. 100
    Nothing is as it seems in State of Play, a crackerjack political thriller in which no individual, profession or institution gets away clean.
  3. 63
    The overall lack of subtlety is a riot - there's even a cautionary production of "Peter and the Wolf" happening in the background during one journalist-politician showdown at a Beltway gala. Still, it's a pleasure watching this cast make the most of the material.
  4. As dense as a Watergate-era newspaper and as immediate as a blog, State of Play is an absolutely riveting state-of-the-art "big conspiracy" thriller.
  5. 75
    The movie never quite attains altitude. It has a great takeoff, levels nicely, and then seems to land on autopilot. Maybe it's the problem of resolving so much plot in a finite length of time, but it seems a little too facile toward the end.
  6. State of Play isn't a kinetic fireball like the second or third "Bourne" installment; like its protagonist, it's defiantly old school, "Three Days of the Condor" bleeding into "All the President's Men."
  7. State of Play is far from a great movie, but it's sentimental in all the right ways.
  8. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    Once you get over the unlikelihood of Affleck and Crowe as buddies, State Of Play stands as a sterling thriller, benefiting from admirable convictions and an arguable return to form by Russell Crowe.
  9. Spins a thorny tale of political corruption laced with personal sleaze.
  10. 80
    It is a refreshingly traditional star-driven thriller.
  11. 75
    Co-written by Tony Gilroy, who penned the tricky "Michael Clayton" and the even trickier "Duplicity," State of Play displays its savvy without being quite so showy.
  12. The result is a paper-thin alliance between the old-school Cal and the new-media Della. Crowe, husky and whisky-voiced, is warm amidst all the plot mechanics, and McAdams, perky and efficient, is a smart foil for him.
  13. Acting-wise, the showstopper is Jason Bateman, with a diabolically entertaining turn as a smarmy PR man remarkably free with confidential information.
  14. 83
    Until State of Play slips into its small cascade of improbabilities near its end, it proves a thoroughly engaging and professional enterprise.
  15. Reviewed by: Rob Calvert
    This is a smart script. There is a wealth of twists, but none of them have to beat you over the head.
  16. 75
    There's no question that State of Play feels a little rushed and the density of plot can be daunting, but the resulting tale unfolds with an urgency and sense of verisimilitude that will keep most viewers intrigued and involved without losing many along the way.
  17. 75
    Affleck may strike you as off-putting at first, hitting wrong emotional notes, but hang on. State of Play keeps the twists coming.
  18. 80
    An intelligent adult thriller about the death of newspapers.
  19. For about 115 minutes, State of Play tells an alarming, tightly constructed story, with serious things to say about journalism and the state of the country. The movie appears to be all but over - and likely to stand as one of the best films of 2009. And then the filmmakers add one last embellishment, and they blow it.
  20. 67
    Though solidly plotted and executed all around, the film, too, feels like a quaint relic from another era, aping the form of journalistic thrillers like "All The President’s Men" while missing much of their urgency.
  21. A rare treat for cinema lovers starved for the days when scruffy newspaper reporters fearlessly sniffed out corruption, State of Play delivers the kind of conspiratorial thrills that would have made Pakula proud.
  22. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Intelligent and engrossing saga.
  23. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    In the end, though, it's Crowe who must carry the most freight, which he does with another characterization to relish. Still bulky, although not as much so as in "Body of Lies," long-tressed and somewhat grizzled, he finds the gist of the affable eccentricity, natural obsessiveness and mainstream contrarianism that marks many professional journalists.
  24. 70
    Features a handsome production and terrific performances.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 145 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. Steve
    Jul 31, 2009
    Ninety-five percent of this movie is a smart, engrossing, well-acted thriller. I wasn't crazy about how it was shot -- too much washed Ninety-five percent of this movie is a smart, engrossing, well-acted thriller. I wasn't crazy about how it was shot -- too much washed out color and hand-held camera for this type of story -- but the script was tight and the performances good. Then came the ending. Without giving away what happens, let me just say that it's hard to imagine how a film this big makes it through all the studio execs and test screenings without somebody realizing that the ending simply doesn't make sense. I spent a good amount of time trying to go back through the events and figure out how the various characters knew what they supposedly did, but it doesn't come together. Then I went online and found that it doesn't make sense to anyone else either. It's really too bad, because this could have been a great movie if they'd just left it alone. It didn't even need the extra twist which wound up killing the overall experience. Full Review »
  2. JimF
    Apr 18, 2009
    The tension in the newsroom in "State of Play" between the traditional print edition and the online-bottom-line present provides an The tension in the newsroom in "State of Play" between the traditional print edition and the online-bottom-line present provides an interesting backdrop for this generally taut, well-directed drama, and the tantalizing suggestion of post-9/11 conspiracies within the government is potentially provocative. But, unfortunately, the film doesn't follow through on its promise, and the drama eventually devolves into a denouement that looks like it was fabricated by the "Warren Commission"-like agency in Alan Pakula's "The Parallax View". Also, having Ben Affleck's character's fling with an underage girl punished at the end doesn't work as well if Russell Crowe's character is implicitly hitting on a girl (Rachel McAdams) young enough to be his daughter. So much for high-mindedness. Full Review »
  3. Oct 26, 2014
    State of Play: 6 out of 10: State of Play is two hour plus big budget thriller without one memorable scene and only one memorable performance.State of Play: 6 out of 10: State of Play is two hour plus big budget thriller without one memorable scene and only one memorable performance. The memorable performance is Helen Mirren who brightens up the screen whenever she appears. The rest of the performances are more stereotypes than individual characters.

    Russell Crowe plays a reporter for a Washington Post stand-in. He looks and act like the stereotypical beat reporter. His best friend is Congressman Ben Affleck who is your standard movie congressional representative (Noble but battling demons.) He is caught in an affair with a now dead staffer and his best friend is on the case. Tagging along with Crowe is neophyte cub reporter Rachel McAdams who Jimmy Olsens it up despite the fact she is a lead blogger at a major national newspaper. Robin Wright Penn plays Affleck’s cuckolded wife and seems to be in a different movie than the rest of the cast.

    Mirren is the newspapers publisher and gets the films best lines, which she dishes, with aplomb. Everyone else seems to be playing along at half speed. For a thriller there is a strange lack of action or tension. The twists seemed preordained and the characters behave exactly as they are programmed.

    The film certainly has star power and a big budget but it simply does not seem to know what to do with it. Part of the problem is that it is condensed from a 2003 British mini-series of the same name. Condensing the 300 minutes of plot into 120 or so minutes leaves little room for character development or nuance. The players seem to be quickly checking of plot boxes.

    The films other big problem is that it is a overwrought love letter to the newspaper business, including groan worthy dialogue about the magnanimous printed fourth estate and an end title sequence that can only be described as porn for publishers.

    Somewhat entertaining and yet eminently forgettable State of Play is worth a look. Just do not expect that good a time.
    Full Review »