State of Play

Rated 3.0

A Washington D.C. reporter (Russell Crowe) and his paper’s online blogger (Rachel McAdams) investigate the suspicious death of the mistress of a popular congressman and friend of the reporter (Ben Affleck). Writers Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray adapt the complex six-hour BBC miniseries down to a shade more than two hours, keeping the inevitable muddle to a minimum (though the final twist is a bit of a stretch too far). Director Kevin Macdonald works well with his actors, but doesn’t tighten the screws in the suspense department until late in the third act. The final result is a rather conventional political thriller with a terrific cast (including Robin Wright Penn as Affleck’s wife and Helen Mirren as Crowe’s acerbic editor, plus Jeff Daniels, Jason Bateman, Viola Davis and Josh Mostel).