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Movie Review

Conspiracy Theory

Reviewed by: Cheryl Sneeringer
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens and Adults
Genre:
Romantic Thriller
Length:
135 min.
R

Starring: Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart / Director: Richard Donner / Released by: Warner Brothers

At first glance, Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) seems to be just a harmless, comical, social misfit who earns a modest living as a taxi driver and spends his free time weaving far-fetched theories of wide-ranging government conspiracies to manipulate the common people or to assassinate their leaders. He scours newspapers for events that support his theories, and he publishes a newsletter that documents his findings. In addition to his obsession with conspiracies, Jerry is also obsessed with a lovely young attorney at the Justice Department, Alice Sutton (Julia Roberts). At night he sits in his cab outside her apartment and watches as she exercises on her treadmill. At times he goes to her office to tell her of his conspiracy theories, but his thinking is so disjointed that she cannot take him seriously.

Then one day, several men in dark suits kidnap Jerry, and take him to the basement of a mental hospital, where he is strapped to a wheelchair and tortured by a sinister man named Dr. Jonas (Patrick Stewart). Jonas keeps asking, “Who knows what we know, Jerry?” Terrified (literally) out of his wits, Jerry stammers, “What is it that we know?” From this point on, the movie shifts from light comedy to a deadly serious action picture. After a humorous and harrowing escape, Jerry is on the run, with various arms of government trying to track him down or kill him. The only person he will trust is Alice, but she can’t be sure that she should trust him. Is Jerry an endearing simpleton, a dangerous psychotic, or an unfeeling assassin?

The film is full of plot twists and unforeseen developments that keep you guessing every minute. I found the movie to be very enjoyable—suspenseful, engrossing, and complex. When the movie is over, however, and all the secrets are exposed, it is clear that there were major flaws in the logic of the plot. Nevertheless, I do recommend this movie. It contained some particularly clever ideas. I particularly enjoyed Jerry’s ingenuity in the design of his escape route from his apartment and the surprising significance of his obsession with buying copies of The Catcher in the Rye. Although the plot of “Conspiracy Theory” won’t hold up to careful scrutiny, nevertheless the film was fun for the ride.

There are a handful of instances of bad language in this movie, but no sex or nudity. The movie is properly rated R, however, due to the horror and intensity of the torture scene, and one particularly grisly shooting. This film is not suitable for children.

Year of Release—1997

Viewer Comments
Agree with the “great movie/must see” comments. Some vivid violence, but not excessive and after all the rating is “R.” Decent story and action scenes. What makes this movie exceptional? Mel Gibson’s acting was just superb! This is the fully developed character-type one only gets a glimpse of in the Lethal Weapon series. I thought Mel Gibson put in an Oscar quality performance here. If you liked the Lethal Weapon movies, watch Conspiracy Theory!
—Todd Adams, age 30
This movie is a must see! It contains a little bit of everything: comedy; romance; action; and a suprisingly interesting plot. Mel Gibson’s paranoia was absolutely hilarious. This movie kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. My dad liked it so much he stayed during boring credits to see who wrote the script. YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS MOVIE!
—Ryan Alarcon, age 14
Enjoyed this movie and especially the “craziness” of Mel Gibson’s character. Aren’t we all a bit paranoid? The sad part: his reality was that the govenment had programmed him. Reminds me of the saying, “Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t really out to get you.”
—Nannette Serra, age 55
Gibson’s paranoia was contageous, and this movie really put you through the paces as it weaved and bobbed through reality and fantasy. Very enjoyable, with a few touching moments. Only marred by some profanity and violence, it was worth watching. I recommend it for teens to adults only. And remember, it’s not paranoia if everyone IS out to get you!
—jim miller, age 41
This movie was great! It was filled with some great lines that kept the movie moving. Mel and Julia are a great pair and their incredible acting abilities add beautifully to the movie.
—Peter Wright, age 21
The best movie I’ve seen since The Fugitive. It it Christian? No. Entertaining? Yes. Is it Antichristian? No. Is it neutral. Yes.
—Pastor Mike Rogers, age 43
I thought Conspiracy Theory was a decent movie—not too great, but not all that bad either. I’m a big fan of Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts, and I thought they both did a fine job in the movie. I wasn’t crazy about what I felt the purpose of the movie to be: director Richard Donner essentially attempting to make everyone more suspicious than they already are of our governement. But, what can you expect from someone with such liberal leanings. I would hesitate to receommend this movie to anyone who is not a fan of the actors that starred in it.
—Jeff Michael, age 26
I thought Conspiracy Theory was GREAT! This is a “must-see” movie, and it didn’t deserve its “R” rating. I didn’t find anything offensive, except Julia Roberts' favorite phrase is “S.O.B”. It is VERY suspenseful, and VERY entertaining. It is VERY ORIGINAL, and has a plot that MAKES SENSE! This movie is a MUST SEE!
—Brian Pedigo, age 17
This movie is barely an “R” rating, more like a PG-13—the “R” rating is perhaps due to the UNGLORIFIED and mild shooting scenes (- just 2 or 3 where you just see the bullet holes and appropriate amounts of blood in water and facial bllod from getting a nose bitten) That’s about the extent of the “blood and gore.” No sex, just simple romance, comedy and suspense. I do recommend the movie.
—Cameron Fultz, age 32
The opening 10 minutes of Conspiracy Theory were hilarious! So many of his “theories” are ones being tossed around Christian Society today (in regard to the end times). I especially enjoyed the idea of Jerry Garcia being a British secret agent (is he really dead??) Except for a torture scene (complete with a long needle), this movie did not warrant an “R” rating. It was much less offensive than many “PG” movies. Mel Gibson once again proves he is a versatile actor. Not super believable but definitely worth seeing.
—Kristen, age 28
The movie was great! Very appealing I liked the comedy and Drama mix.
—Deborah, age 38
This film had all the key parts to make a great film. The integration of these parts is where the film loses its greatness. Continuity is a word used to describes the “flow” of a film. Great and entertaining films contain incredible continuity. This film has a great script, incredible directing, and believable acting but the film lacks any continuity. It is entertaining at times, then it shifts to a “bonding” scene between the two main characters that separates the viewer from the real story of the film. I usually love movies based on conspiracy and cover-up but this film was so convoluted that it was hard to discover what the conspiracy was about or who was covering it up. I enjoyed the basis of the film but the core plot twists, integral to the success of any movie of this genre, were horribly implemented. I had an enjoyable time watching Mel Gibson crack jokes but that was about all there was to enjoy in this film.
—Todd Burns, age 17
After reading this review I am left wondering how I as a Christian should feel about this movie. I do not see anything in this review, other than the fact that it is not for children, that gives me a Christian perspective. Mel Gibson portrays a man, who makes up stories about people and “conspiracies” these people are supposedly in the middle of. Thou shalt not give false testimony against thy neighbor. Action and plots are great, but lets not forget why these movie reviews exist, to give us the readers a better idea about what is and isn’t healthy for Christians to watch.
—Chris Van Den Berg, age 21
Why are so many R-rated movies submitted with such favorable ratings? I don’t know if it’s fear of being derided as a “narrow-minded Christian,” but I thought “Conspiracy Theory” and “Air Force One” were awfully mediocre. (#1 at the box office usually means a movie opened on the most number of screens nationwide, not that it’s a good movie.)
—Brian, age 24
“Conspiracy Theory” was not a bad film, but I didn’t think it was quite as good as Cheryl, the reviewer, thought. Patrick Stewart did an excellent job, as did Mel Gibson. The torture sequence was actually somehow funny and intense at the same time, I guess do to the comic genius of Mel Gibson. All in all, pretty mild for an R-rated movie.
—Milo Lydon, age 15
I’m still catching my breath from this one. Mel was great and Julia was o.k. This movie has a plot that'll have your head ringing for a week. It’s a very entertaining movie… if you can keep up with it. Funny as heck, too. Strictly entertainment.
—Chris Utley, age 24