State of Play

The crime-solving journalist genre is a sure-bet with critics. State of Play has a great ensemble, but it keeps a distance that leaves a viewer cold.

The crime-solving journalist genre is a sure-bet with critics. State of Play finds its pedigree in a rich ensemble. Russell Crowe, looking like Jeff Bridges with his frumpy dress and grunge-era hair, plays luddite Washington Post investigative reporter Cal McAffrey. He's paired with blogger Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) to cover a pair of murders that may link to a conspiracy to control homeland security. A condensed American remake of the British miniseries, State of Play has big star professionalism. But the script is missing tension. When Hitchcock and De Palma bring heroes closer to the source of evil, their protagonists' lives threaten to spin out of control. Despite a cat-and-mouse sequence in a parking garage, too much of State of Play maintains impersonal distance. McAffrey remains too comfortable. The story's intriguing, but State of Play doesn't burn hot enough for a lasting impression.

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