ADAPTED from the six-part 2003 BBC mini-series created by Paul Abbott, State Of Play is a timely political thriller about the tug of war between morality and sensationalist headlines.
The skeletal narrative of the award-winning six-hour television programme is untouched, transplanted from the corridors of power in London to Washington DC.
Screenwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray have been forced to excise subplots and entire characters to shoehorn as much of the intrigue and double-cross as possible into two taut hours.
As a result, there are several noticeable holes in the plot, which necessitate some Herculean leaps of logic for the characters to reach their dramatic conclusions, especially in the serpentine final 30 minutes.
Director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King Of Scotland) punctuates the snappy dialogue with some terrific, suspenseful set pieces, including a shocking turn of events in a hospital room and a deadly game of cat and mouse in a subterranean car park, which leaves us holding our breath.
Russell Crowe is the veteran reporter looking into the personal indiscretions of senator Ben Affleck, whose beautiful aide has just killed herself.
Crowe uncovers a deadly conspiracy that fuels a labyrinthine plot that takes some keeping up with as the film heads with breakneck speed for its conclusion.
STAR RATING: ***