I have experienced the third film before, in theatre and through the original British Television series. State of Play is an expertly crafted political, media, thriller with a good end twist.
Russell Crowe is an excellent choice to play the award winning do it my way or not at all newspaper man of a major newspaper recently taken over by a media corporation who decides to investigate the death of man carrying a brief case in Washington DC who also shoots a Pizza delivery man who is a witness and left in a coma. This is a side show to the main event which occurs when a prominent crusading Congressman breaks down at an open hearing investigation into the activities of an international arms manufacturer and security firm. His research assistant appears to have committed suicide by falling under a train a Metro station platform. The media immediate correctly suggests that the married Congressman was having an affair with the assistant much too understandable shock horror of his wife. This is where Crowe has he conflict of interest because he roomed with Congressman at college and dated the wife before. It is the Congressman who first turns to Crow for help in providing a refuge after his wife refuses to talk to him and the media assemble outside the family home. The wife also approaches Crowe expressing the view hat she had made the wrong decision but Crow has become sufficiently worldly to recognise there is no going back.
Crowe has been required to work with a young female journalist who provides the online news service at the behest of the Editor played by Helen Mirren and who is torn between the commercial requirements of the new masters and the journalistic standards of inquiry and independence which brought her to the position she now holds. Over the course of the film Crowe and Rachel McAdams untangle what appears to be a major conspiracy by the Defence contractor Points Corp. It emerges that they financed the young research assistant to provide information on the work of the Congressman and the Committee. Moreover she was placed with the help of a senior member of the Political party of which Ben Affleck the crusading Congressman is a member. The affair between the two became serious and the girl decided not to go through with her role, particularly when she became pregnant although she had not disclosed this to Affleck sacred at his reaction when he found out the truth of how they came together. It is believed she was killed because she refused to assist further and those involved were afraid of what she would reveal in the new situation.
It also emerges that the Corporation has been winning almost all the $40 billion of new domestic defence contracts under the Government’s new policy of out sourcing security operations in the homeland. It has done this by a series of shell companies and bribery of politicians. However just before the story is about to be printed Crowe works out that the killer is someone arranged by Affleck who had suspected and then found out that the young woman was a spy. Understandably he is shattered when discovering that she was pregnant. The killer is an ex soldier who owed his life to Affleck while serving in the military. He nearly kills Affleck at the end of the film but is shot dead by the police after refusing to surrender. On the final moment of the film the story is printed under the name of the young female reporter with Crowe in effect her assistant. The two go off hand in hand suggesting a serious romance is in the offing. Affleck’s screen wife is played by Robin Wright Penn the now divorced wife of Sean Penn.