State of Play 2009

Critics score:
84 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Ben Lyons, At the Movies: I want to see more films like this. Read more

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: Based on a hit BBC miniseries, State of Play features a handsome production and terrific performances from its aforementioned stars. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: It's like a time bomb that's never dismantled but never explodes. The movie is good enough that the ending leaves you ... not angry, exactly. Unfulfilled. Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: This rote paranoid thriller was adapted from a 2003 BBC miniseries, with a few topical headlines folded in and some cursory attempts to make newspapers seem au courant. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: A busy thriller that moves between the worlds of newspapers and politics, Kevin Macdonald's State of Play zips along smoothly. Read more

Scott Tobias, AV Club: Though solidly plotted and executed all around, the film feels like a quaint relic from another era, aping the form of journalistic thrillers like All The President's Men while missing much of their urgency. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: State of Play, based on the outstanding British television series, is a first-rate political thriller, but it's also something more. Read more

Wesley Morris, Boston Globe: It's a pleasure watching this cast make the most of the material. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: The kind of acting Crowe does here won't win awards and doesn't scream for attention. Yet it serves the thriller conventions as well as the old-warrior-journalist cliches in style. Read more

Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle: It's a film in a hurry. In the scant minutes between plot twists, we get treated to bite-size nuggets of character development and a few juicy nibbles of acting from a cast almost universally committed to going large. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: It's sentimental in all the right ways. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: This conspiracy thriller, starring Russell Crowe as an investigative newspaper reporter and Helen Mirren as his fire/ice editor, comes at us like the proverbial bat out of hell and keeps up a brisk rhythm built for intelligence. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: State of Play makes you wonder where we'll be in a decade; more importantly, it makes you wonder where we are now. Read more

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: [An] excitingly twisty and topical new politics-and-media conspiracy thriller. Read more

Christy Lemire, Associated Press: Despite the quaint depiction of a packed newsroom bustling with activity, the debates about quick online hits vs. hard-hitting investigations, between selling papers with fluff vs. offering actual substance, feel relevant and real. Read more

Christopher Kelly, Dallas Morning News: The movie doesn't quite work, but even when it's misfiring it has an old-fashioned appeal. Read more

Amy Nicholson, I.E. Weekly: An unrepentantly mature suspense flick; there're no jokes, no breasts and no explosions. Even as the secrets spill out, the sense is of a world compressing, not unraveling. Read more

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times: A meandering movie that sometimes hits dead center and sometimes misfires dismally, resulting in a drama more tangled than taut. Read more

Connie Ogle, Miami Herald: Its depiction of a newsroom is so realistic you'll be surprised to learn the scenes were filmed on a set. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: You've seen it all before, including the paunch Russell Crowe sported in Body of Lies, but with one exception: One intrepid reporter here is a blogger. Read more

David Denby, New Yorker: The three screenwriters may have been trying to work too many plot strands into two hours; in any case, State of Play is both overstuffed and inconclusive. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: Holds together in proper, conspiracy-thriller style, providing general audiences with a few good surprises and some crackling performances. Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: It's Bateman who adds juice just as too many conspiracies threaten to spoil the stew. His cameo as a hustling scuzzball is the film's most memorable performance. Read more

Kyle Smith, New York Post: State of Play is bordered by the states of absurdity and cliche. Read more

A.O. Scott, New York Times: The chance to explore the swiftly changing culture of Web-age journalism is one of several intriguing possibilities that State of Play squanders. Read more

Andrew Sarris, New York Observer: It is Mr. Crowe who lends State of Play a sense of perpetual urgency as he traverses the corridors of power in search of massive wrongdoing at the risk of his own life. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: State of Play is the latest incoherently written, mass-entertainment gibberish by the overrated Tony Gilroy. Read more

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: As dense as a Watergate era newspaper and as immediate as a blog, State of Play is an absolutely riveting state-of-the-art "big conspiracy" thriller. Read more

Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer: The journalist in me loved State of Play. The moviegoer in me even more so. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: The resulting tale unfolds with an urgency and sense of verisimilitude that will keep most viewers intrigued and involved without losing many along the way. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: A smart, ingenious thriller set in the halls of Congress and the city room of a newspaper not unlike the Washington Post. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: State of Play keeps the twists coming. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, State of Play does get a little creaky in its last third -- at that point it needs to be more streamlined, more concise. But Macdonald and the screenwriters manage to weave their ideas through a sturdy-enough plot, so we never feel we're being preached to Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: For about 115 minutes, State of Play tells an alarming, tightly constructed story, with serious things to say about journalism and the state of the country. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: Instead of luring us down an ever-darker and twistier path, it strands us in a tedious and ill-designed maze. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: A solidly constructed thriller that recalls the paranoid conspiracies of the 1970s. Read more

Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Crowe turns in a strong performance as the conflicted McAffrey. McAdams is equally convincing as Frye, who gets a quick education in journalistic basics. Read more

Rick Groen, Globe and Mail: Giving new meaning to movie magic, those Hollywood tricksters have managed to shorten the story while slowing the pace -- all of a sudden, minutes are passing like hours. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: Directed by Kevin Macdonald, it's a capable if convoluted 'B' movie about government corruption, with an 'A' cast furiously pounding the pavement and keyboard. Read more

Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine: For a handy compare-and-contrast, check out the small- and big-screen versions of State of Play. You'll see the difference between a vital work of popular art and a patched-up retread. Read more

Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out: Read more

Wally Hammond, Time Out: Despite the cliched nature of much of the dialogue and the derivative thriller set-ups, 'State of Play' provides sufficient old-fashioned entertainment value to justify the ticket. Read more

Christopher Orr, The New Republic: [A] film that has spent an hour and forty-five minutes puffing itself into a battle for the Soul of American Democracy feebly hisses its way to a deflated conclusion. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: Though it is a well-crafted political thriller, State of Play may actually have more to say about the beleaguered state of print journalism than about governmental shenanigans. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Variety: This efficient, admirably coherent thriller about reporters digging down to where politics and murder meet in Washington, D.C., has a wistful air about it as regards the fourth estate at a time when the profession is dangling by a thread. Read more

J. Hoberman, Village Voice: An effectively involving journalism-cum-conspiracy yarn with a bang-bang opening and a frantic closer. Read more