Film / The Crowe Flies Again


This adaption of the BBC drama switches from London to D.C. to take on an American State of Play, as Killian Woods watches on.

CAPITOL HILL HAS never been a place shy of controversy, with its nemesis the printed press always sniffing around for the inside story. Though, when a congressman loses one of his staff to an alleged railway suicide, he re-ignites an old friendship with a D.C reporter, where they both regard this death as suspicious.

Boasting an all-star cast, State of Play sees Russell Crowe play investigative journalist Cal McAffrey, who is thrown into one of America’s biggest political scandals. Assisted by Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), McAffrey’s boldness pushes him to unravel a stream of murders and mysteries associated with Capitol Hill’s figureheads.

The ambitious Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), who is considered the future of his party, is the friend at risk. Being in the fortunate position to have good relationships with Collins and his thick skinned editor Cameron Lynne (Helen Mirren), McAffrey is allowed to pursue this career defining story to its end.

Working tirelessly, this fearless reporter blackmails politicians, breaks the law and gets shot at in his bid to seek the truth. Collins consequently agrees to speak out about a particular murder if there is undeniable evidence that it occurred.

McAffrey comes across a conspiracy at the heart of US politics. This development threatens to shake the political foundations of bureaucratic America. He soon discovers that when billions of dollars are at stake, powerful forces will stand in the way of the printed press and free speech.

“The slightly overweight Russell Crowe is as dedicated to the role as his character is to cracking the case”

The movie continues at a constant pace throughout and leaves the viewers’ knowledge of the story on a level par with the actors. Director Kevin MacDonald also presents dilemmas over the course of the movie. We are left questioning McAffrey’s ethics at times, as we wonder if the story or his friend’s credibility is more important.

The movie is an adaptation of the BBC drama of the same title. Kevin MacDonald’s adoption of the story sees minor changes in the plot and location of the political thriller. While switching capitals from London to Washington D.C., the movie is obviously far shorter than the television series. This causes some subplot and character development to be lost in translation. However, it does not take away from the performances of the actors.

The slightly overweight Russell Crowe is as dedicated to the role as his character is to cracking the case. While supporting actors Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck and Helen Mirren conduct themselves well throughout.

State of Play is director Kevin MacDonald’s first film since his BAFTA award winning movie Last King of Scotland. The impressive style in which his new feature is presented only affirms that the documentary-maker’s feature debut was no fluke.

This political thriller has overcome many hurdles to get to our screens. Problems casting the lead roles saw Brad Pitt and Edward Norton leave the project. Furthermore, the writers’ strike set the production back a couple of months. Yet against all the odds, the finished article is impressive and well worth seeing.

Rating: 4/5