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  • Conspiracy Theory
    • Conspiracy Theory
    • Runtime:127 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-16 08:00:54
    • Director: Richard Donner
    • Genres: Crime, Mystery, Romance, Thriller
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Conspiracy Theory


This romantic thriller was made over a decade ago, years before I was
old enough to watch R-rated movies, and by the time I rented it just
yesterday, I still didn't know much about it. However, I did know that
the co-stars were Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts, two Hollywood movie
stars I had been familiar with for a long time. I also knew that it was
directed by Richard Donner, who directed the "Lethal Weapon"
quadrilogy, which Gibson also co-starred in. I had seen all four of
those films, and thought that overall, it was a good franchise. So, I
rented "Conspiracy Theory" because I knew it was another film directed
by Donner and starring Gibson and it also looked like a promising
thriller. Still, I wanted to like it more than I did.

Jerry Fletcher is a New York taxi driver and dedicated conspiracy
theorist. He can think of conspiracy theories for anything, and
constantly talks to his passengers about them. He even writes his
theories in his own newsletter, which is sent to only five different
people in the mail. The taxi driver has a crush on Alice Sutton, and
woman who works for the Justice Department and whose father was
murdered, but she doesn't know about Fletcher's feelings towards her.
One day, after he is kicked out of Alice's office, he is soon captured
by a group of CIA agents and finds himself in a mysterious place where
he is tortured by a CIA doctor named Dr. Jonas! This sends Jerry into a
fit of insanity, and after he bites the doctor's nose, severely
injuring him, he manages to escape from the building. It turns out that
at least one of the New York taxi driver's many conspiracy theories
appears to be true, but he can't tell which one it is!

The beginning shows the main character ranting to various passengers in
his cab about his conspiracy theories, and this is a fairly shaky
beginning. Soon after that, there's a flashy sequence showing Jerry's
frightening memories, and I found this part to be a little rushed and
unfocused. A lot of the film can probably be described that way. That
part is followed by a cheesy and overlong scene with the taxi driver
watching his love interest through her window, singing on her
treadmill. Despite all this, it still looks like it's going to be at
least a fairly decent thriller around the beginning and it is at times,
but it's not consistent enough. The early torture scene didn't do much
for me, and it even features frightening memories of Jerry's flashing
before his eyes again, with the same problems as the first time this
happens. Another thing that doesn't help is that Jerry's constant
conspiracy theories can get tiring. Fortunately, there are definitely
some good thrills and action, and Mel Gibson puts on an impressive
performance as Jerry Fletcher, though his character here is no match
for the likable Martin Riggs in the "Lethal Weapon" series. Julia
Roberts as Alice Sutton and Patrick Stewart (another actor I've been
familiar with for a long time) as Dr. Jonas are also memorable cast

At 135 minutes, this 1997 thriller is a fairly long movie, and later in
the film, it didn't seem as flawed to me as it did for a long time
before then. It might improve after a while, and Gibson's character
might eventually get easier to sympathize with. I may have been worn
out during the second half or so, and get the feeling I could have
gotten just a BIT more out of the film (at least closer to the end) if
I'd had a bit more energy. For that reason, I feel I could almost give
it a 7/10 instead of a 6. On the other hand, I don't think having a
high energy level would have hidden this movie's severe flaws from me,
flaws which make "Conspiracy Theory" somewhat disappointing. Even if it
does improve along the way, I would say it definitely takes quite a
while to do so. This movie is by no means horrible, and could be
entertaining if you like a good romantic thriller and are old enough to
see the violence here, but it still didn't meet my expectations.


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is almost better on the second viewing because you can see the
hints of future plot twists. (Start with the helicopter early on…the
street repair work…most of the later twists are hinted at but you
must look close.) Mel Gibson is the streetwise (tho brain fried) cabbie
who has a kinda Man of Le Mancha love from afar for Assistant DA Julia
Roberts. Gibson spouts off all sorts of conspiracy theories in a quick
montage to various cab passengers….as he drives thru NYC and wonders
what the "spooks" (CIA or the like) are up to.

Gibson's character also creates and distributes a tiny "Conspiracy
Theory" newsletter. When four of his FIVE conspiracy magazine
subscribers are murdered – Julia Roberts take him seriously. The
harmless goofy guy who once saved her life – and who follows her around
like a harmless stray dog – is actually on to something. So she starts
investigating and yes – the real conspiracy theory villains go after
her too! Great villain – some good plot twists – MUSIC tells you what's
going on in his head! Tho the "government as the villain" is a tired,
overdone pre 9/11 theme, it's still interesting here. I would give it a
higher rating except for the repeat of this worn out theme.

It's way too violent for small children. Sound and strobe light effects
add to the violence effect.

Note: It's also interesting to see a man willing to die for a woman,
versus merely get her to sleep with him…Chivalry – even NCY cabby
style – is not dead.


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoiler Warning: Wow! The same guy that wrote the screenplay for
'Mystic River', 'L.A. Confidential,' and 'Payback' wrote this too? The
fact that this trite, obnoxious, ludicrous movie ever got made is a
conspiracy theory in and of itself. Earthquakes? There might be an
easier way to kill the president. The stultifying ending was obviously
tacked on by a studio executive to appease the masses, and the love
story is completely inane. Oh yeah, it is tooooo long at 135 minutes.
That is the problem with the studio Hollywood system, sometimes, or a
lot of times, they like to tinker and add implausibilities; Brian
Hegeland's script had to better than this, didn't it?

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