| 02 Mar 2015 | 04:27

    state of play's only point of interest is its dramatization of journalists' professional anxiety as washington globe ace reporter cal mcaffrey (russell crowe) compares himself to cub reporter della frye (rachel mcadams): "i'm overfed, too expensive and take way too long." editrix cameron lynne (helen mirren) reminds both of them that the digital age is rendering newsprint-and their own ambition-obsolete. there's no solution yet to this crisis, which is all that makes state of play-with its stock presentation of political corruption-seem relevant.

    from the opening scene of pointless violence-the kind that hollywood deems suitable for saturday night escapism-state of play mixes trite excitation with glib politics. mcaffrey and frye team up to uncover a washington, d.c. murder that eventually exposes a young senator (ben affleck) and the corruption of private defense contractors in the iraq war.

    this is tony gilroy territory. gilroy wrote the script (along with matthew michael carnahan and billy ray) as another grandstanding display of his pious concern and political superiority as in duplicity, michael clayton and the bourne flicks. if instances of dishonesty, cover-ups and heroic loners seem at all surprising, then you haven't watched tv in the past 30 years-or the bbc series where state of play originated.

    brit director kevin macdonald brings his same cheap slickness as found in the last king of scotland. he, too, specializes in mixing entertainment and earnestness: action flick, murder mystery and political/corporate critique. all glibly cynical-including the 1970s-era suggestion that journalism is next to knighthood. state of play's fear that integrity, like journalism, is extinct seems mis-timed for the obama era. one longs for the extinction of hollywood's bush-league cynicism. -- state of play directed by kevin macdonald runtime: 127 min.