The newspaper industry is dying. Everybody knows it. Recently, Time put on its cover the image of a fish wrapped in a newspaper, and anyone who's seen The Godfather knows what that means. And with it on that slow march to the grave could be the newspaper thriller; after all, how many years has it been since we've seen as sterling an example of the "Stop the presses!" genre as something like All the President's Men?
State of Play is by no means perfect, but if it's coming at the end of an era, I'm glad it got in before the door shut. Russell Crowe, looking like a weary lion with that shaggy mane of his, plays Cal McAffrey, a veteran Washington Globe reporter who's on the story of the shooting deaths of a thief and a pizza delivery guy, which may or may not be connected to the apparent suicide of Sonia Baker (Maria Thayer). Sonia, an aide to prominent Congressman Steve Collins (Ben Affleck), seemed to have stepped off of a subway platform to her demise, but Collins, a longtime friend of Cal's, reveals to Cal that he had been having an affair with her and shows Cal a bright and cheery video Sonia had sent him mere hours before her death.
There is, of course, more going on, and Cal is determined to get to the bottom of things. First, though, he has to clash with Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), a fresh-faced young blogger from the Globe's Web department. Della almost jeopardizes the story by spilling gossip about Collins' relationship with Sonia on the paper's website; this doesn't make Cal too happy, but it's not long before the two form a partnership to crack the story, each writing about different pieces of the puzzle.