Star-studded legal or political thrillers with decent-sized budgets and stacked ensemble casts were all the rage throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, but it’s not really a genre that Hollywood seems to take much interest in anymore, which is a shame, because it’s always a type of film that’s well worth a watch if the material is strong enough.
A case in point is Kevin Macdonald’s 2009 effort State of Play, which was a feature-length remake of a six-episode British series that aired in 2003. Russell Crowe takes top billing as dogged journalist Cal McAffrey, who gets drawn into a murder investigation, with the victim being the assistant and secret mistress of his childhood friend and rising political star Stephen Collins, played by Ben Affleck. McAffrey struggles to separate the personal from the professional as he stumbles upon a huge cover-up involving some serious players in Washington.
As well as the two Academy Award winners in the lead roles, State of Play also features Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright, Harry Lennix, Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels, Viola Davis and David Harbour, so you know right off the bat that the performances are going to be solid across the board, with the acting unsurprisingly being one of the movie’s greatest strengths.
State of Play drew strong reviews from critics and holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 84%, but it was a disappointment at the box office after earning just $88 million on a $60 million budget. It’s coming to Netflix on May 1st, though, where it’ll look to sink its hooks into a much bigger audience, and it’s got a great shot at reaching the Top 10 most-watched list given the talent involved.