Pen vs. Sword
State of Play
Review by Ross Anthony

Most of this piece provides hearty cinematic entertainment. The acting is strong, scripting intricate, cinematography solid, but it's really the direction that powers this engine. From the opening heart thumping sequence, the tension builds and almost never lets up.

"State of Play" is the feature film version of a British mini-series of the same name. Perhaps "Pen vs. Sword" would have made a more enticing title, or how about "Rock, Paper, AK47?" All act well, but kudos to Jason Bateman and Helen Mirren in supporting roles -- they nailed 'em.

Unfortunately, for me, the film overstays just a tad and takes just one turn too many. That last twist relieves the tension instead of tightening, further, it somewhat unravels, in retrospect, the previously artfully woven fabric of the film. Perhaps the final irony, the film which is full of characters forever worried of being manipulated, ultimately is guilty of manipulating its audience. Despite the less than powerful end to the picture, I left the theatre still moved by the bulk. That said, a day later, I feel less moved.

Actually, David Edelstein at New York Movies felt similarly, read his well written review here.

State of Play
-- Books by Author/Illustrator Ross Anthony --

  • State of Play. Copyright © 2009.
  • Starring Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman, Helen Mirren, Jeff Daniels, Josh Mostel, Michael Weston, Barry Shabaka Henley, Viola Davis. Directed by Kevin MacDonald. Screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy, Billy Ray. Producted by Andrew Hauptman, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner at Universal Pictures.

Grade..........................B+ (2.5/4)

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Copyright © 1998-2022 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Wednesday, 15-Apr-2009 11:42:23 PDT