It's been quite a while since I've seen a political thriller/mystery film where I find myself fully involved in the characters and plot. Universal Pictures' State of Play will keep audiences hooked from beginning to end. With an all-star cast featuring Ben Affleck, Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, and Helen Mirren, this is one blockbuster that can‘t be beat.
Set in Washington, D.C., seasoned journalist Cal McCaffrey (Crowe) and cub reporter Della Frye (McAdams) follow two murders, one of a young black man shot at close range and another of a mistress/senior researcher to Stephen Collins (Affleck), a young new Congressman. Cal and Stephen have been friends since college and Cal quickly realizes that the two murders are connected. He soon begins his search, while attempting to salvage his friendship.
State of Play is full of political conspiracies that involve the privatization of homeland security, military industrial complex, and alliances between politicians and private security organizations. Congressman Stephen is leading a public interrogation into the largest private group that is selected to train American military in the Middle East and across the US. However, he believes something suspicious is occurring. To lead the investigation, he hires Sonia (Maria Thayer), a young woman who he takes as his mistress and succeeds in keeping their relationship undercover until her death. This storyline is very familiar as the Congressman is married. Isn't this what we usually hear about politicians?
The stories in State of Play are deeply intriguing, constantly keeping you on your toes all the way to the final score. This maze of a film is a guessing game of who will end up as lovers, who are the murderers, and why some of the characters are driven to such great lengths, which may disappoint some. However, it’s enjoyable to watch a movie that will make one recognize several inconsistencies that involve its D.C. setting. Unfortunately, there is a major problem that the filmmakers can’t seem to solve.
One huge discrepancy in State of Play is the lack of Latino characters. If you know anything about D.C., it is an area where a large number of Central Americans have chosen to lay down their roots. Plus, D.C. is such a transient city, and close to Maryland and Virginia, so you get an amazing mix of Latinos from every country in Latin America and the Caribbean. In State of Play, expect four Latinos. The first is the Univision reporter who has a two second line in Spanish about Sonia‘s murder. Then, there is the other Latino who’s an "extra" at the hospital with no speaking role because he is sleeping. The third is the mention of Cal's ex girlfriend Lupe. Finally, there’s a very quick scene of Cal and Dominic Foy (Bateman), a public relations entrepreneur who knew Sonia, walking through the kitchen of a well-known restaurant. Of course, there are Latinos working in the kitchen. This is a missed opportunity to show a thriving Latino community that does exist in D.C., which may turn off viewers completely.
At the end of State of Play, there is an attempt to connect some themes with desert storm syndrome, which some soldiers may experience upon returning home from combat. Yet, this sub-plot is not fully developed. Instead, it draws away from the main theme of corporate conspiracy theories. On another note, if there is ever an actor to play President Barack Obama in a film, it must be Harry Lennix who plays Detective Donald Bell. Will Smith has nothing on Lennix. I dare you to go see State of Play and try to disagree!
State of Play premieres on Friday, April 17.