Conspiracy Theory (1997) -

The Conspirators

Jerry Fletcher: Mel Gibson
Alice Sutton: Julia Roberts
Dr. Jonas: Patrick Stewart
Agent Lowry: Cylk Cozart

The Mastermind

Directed By: Richard Donner.
Written By: Brian Helgeland.

Running Time: 129 Minutes.
Rated R (For Some Violence).

See the movie trailer


“Who is they” Alice Sutton (Julia Roberts) to Jerry Fletcher.
“They is them” Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) in response.

There were several variations of the lines above exchanged between Fletcher and Sutton. The lines aforementioned are representative of the greater picture literally. Rating: 3 UFOs

Matt DeReno Staff Writer


Richard Donner’s Conspiracy Theory is a big budget Hollywood film with big names and a big plot. It is filled with many thriller action clichés such as agents rappelling from helicopters and other typical foot and car chase scenes as well. It has all the features of a film that would be right up the alley of, which it is.

Jerry Fletcher (Gibson) is a nutty and eccentric taxi driver, not too dissimilar than Robert De Niro’s legendary portrayal of one in the 1976 Scorsese film, Tax Driver. In Conspiracy Theory, the neurotic Fletcher is one of those muttering goofballs that spew every outlandish theory they know to anyone that will listen, who happens into their cab.

Like most public banter, it is harmless mostly; until you really concentrate on Jerry and realize he is not being colorful but paranoid. But alas, Fletcher is right. He is right about one conspiracy at least, and it involves himself.

Fletcher has suppressed memories, for lack of a better explanation, of time when he was the product of a U.S. Government mind control experiment to get him to kill people. But, as our film opens, he is just an odd cabby.

Like De Niro’s Taxi Driver, Fletcher is obsessed with a woman: Alice Sutton (Roberts) whose role it is noted on, was offered to Jodie Foster (star of Tax Driver). Sutton, a Justice Department investigator, is forever haunted by the death of her father, who died mysteriously; Turns out that Fletcher, under the mind control program, may or may not have had something to do with her father’s death and hence his obsession with her. But, you watch the movie and figure it out for yourself.

The villain is Dr. Jonas (Patrick Stewart), a government psychiatrist out to eliminate Fletcher - or at least eliminate his memory of the mind control program. I think we got it right. Maybe our mind has been erased too?

I found the movie to be very enjoyable, despite what I have read to the contrary by many other critics. But then again, I live and breathe the conspiracy theory angles and any movie about mind control and government agents and suppressed memories will hold my interest more than the average critics - at least until my memory is suppressed! Still, I would not elevate this movie to the level of something truly special.

For Julia Roberts, who looks great in the film and Gibson, who does his tic and muttering guy, this was a good day of work at the office. Surely no signature film for either, but a good satisfying one nonetheless.

I watched the DVD with my wife and it most be noted she enjoyed this movie perhaps more than I did.

Note: She normally steers toward your typical romance comedy thrillers - not to paint the female moviegoer audience with too wide of a brush.

By ratcheting up the love angle, Donner appears to be pandering to the wider movie market. I got no problem with that per se. Yes, the movie is not Scorsese’s Tax Driver, for all its cinematic seriousness and importance, but I can guarantee you my wife would not watch Tax Driver with me. She’ll watch a Gibson and Roberts’ adventure no problem.

Fun is integral to this movie as it is typically with all campy Hollywood fare. Here I agree with Robert Ebert: Conspiracy Theory was perhaps a brilliant screenplay. It was just by the time you add the A-list actors, you have to have an A-list romance angle and then you need A-list stunts until the conspiracy itself eventually becomes secondary to all the Hollywood contrivances. Still, I got no problem with that.

It is rumored that in the opening of the film when Gibson’s is spewing off a laundry list of conspiracy theories to passengers as the opening credits roll, they were all ad-libbed; purportedly conspiracy theories Gibson actually subscribes too.

As evident, there is a little scene were he vents to two nuns that the Vatican is a scab on a festering wound or something like that. This drew criticism because Gibson belongs to a much stricter offshoot of Catholicism. But, I don’t much stock in those theories at all. After all, he never mentioned the Jews. So, how much of it could he have really meant given some of his pubic drunken rantings of late?

All in all, Conspiracy Theory is a good to above-average movie worthy of a endorsement. It is not the best movie ever, but is workmanlike in craft and trade, has mass audience appeal, cinematically and otherwise. For conspiracy theorists, it is even more so. Anyone who thinks otherwise, clearly is under the power of a Government mind-control program.




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