Kevin MacDonald's State of Play is an intriguing, fast paced political thriller, staring Russell Crowe as Cal McAffrey, the unconventional investigative reporter trying to solve the murder of a congressman's (Ben Affleck) mistress.

Alongside the stellar leads are Helen Mirren, the under-utilized Robin Wright Penn, and the predictably scene stealing Jason Bateman, who delivers yet another unforgettable performance with his portrayal of the eccentric Dominic Foy.

Based on the British BBC mini-series of the same name, State of Play is a thought provoking story about a newspaper that has just been taken over by a media conglomerate, its seasoned editor (Helen Mirren) vying for the all important job-saving first run at a first rate story.

A double murder in an alley, and the accidental death of a congressional staffer, keep politicians and reporters in a game of cat and mouse that twists and turns and keeps you guessing until the very end.

There are a couple of yawner details, like the attempt at sexual tension between the aging, overweight, unorthodox McAffrey and the feisty, young Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), it's obligatory tension building story deadline complete with give the maverick a chance rule bending boss, and an ending that comes close to rendering the piece an obituary. But all in all the film works. Seriously.

The film is captivating and well paced. The characters are engaging and likeable. And the story is good old fashioned entertainment with a hint of All The President's Men.

Check out State of Play at local theatres: http://vancouver.film-can.com/movie/British+Columbia/Greater+Vancouver/G...

Photo of Russell Crowe in State of Play