State of Play is a solid, professional thriller, sharply written with some fine performances.
The Washington Globe is a major metropolitan newspaper with a newsroom full of the usual assortment of colorful characters. Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) is a crusty, disheveled investigative reporter who has been in the business a long time and knows where the bodies are buried (or failing that, knows someone who does know.)
Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) is an enthusiastic young reporter who writes a blog for the paper’s online edition, covering the Capitol.
Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is an ambitious young Congressman conducting hearings on the activities of a shadowy security firm called
Blackwater PointCorp, employed by the Pentagon to perform support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. All hell breaks loose when one of the Congressman’s staffers dies in a subway accident, a suspected suicide.
Della pounces on the story, assuming that the Congressman and the staffer must have been having an affair.
Cal also gets involved. He sees connections with a murder investigation that he has been working on, and suspects that the aide must also have been murdered. But he has personal connections to the story that threaten his objectivity: not only is he an old friend of Congressman Collins, but he once had an affair with Collins’ wife.
Helen Mirren is typically delightful in a secondary role as Cal’s editor.