Now Playing: The Independent Review in State of Play

Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck in State of Play

In State of Play, the new murder-mystery-thriller film set in the midst of the corruption of Washington politics, invasive war making, defense-contract cronyism, and the decline of print newspaper journalism, the Independent Institute’s quarterly journal, The Independent Review, is featured in numerous scenes.

Based on the BBC’s hit 6-part miniseries, this Universal film stars Academy Award-winners Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, and Helen Mirren, as well as Rachel McAdams, and is directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland).

A copy of The Independent Review appears prominently in the first five minutes of the film on the desk of U.S. Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) and then three additional times in the film, including on the conference room table at the Washington Globe newspaper where Cal McCaffrey (Russell Crowe) is an investigative reporter. And perhaps elsewhere?

State of Play is receiving rave reviews and commendably champions the seeking of truth and goodness, including personal and institutional integrity, and features some incisive, critical commentary on the military-industrial-congressional complex. However, this great and suspenseful film ultimately rings hollow by its hypocritical theme that government power per se is not problematic or immoral at all, only when “private” firms are involved. In other words, the film’s heroes are apparently indifferent to wars, pork, taxes, nationalization, surveillance, bailouts, and collectivist controls in general so long as they are imposed through and directly benefit politicians and government bureaucracies. How so very “progressive”!

Ironically enough, such a naive error easily could have been avoided if those involved in creating the film had simply read the copies of The Independent Review spread around the movie set (see for example here, here, here, here, and here). Better yet, they might have consulted the key book on the subject by the journal’s editor Robert Higgs, Depression, War, and Cold War.

David J. Theroux (1949–2022) was Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Institute.
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