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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Conspiracy Theory (1997)



Reviews and Comments

At its core, the plot to Conspiracy Theory is both confused and cliched and, at a couple of pivotal moments, sloppily told. But the manner in which it is revealed is oddly alluring. Small details and bizarre coincidences turn out to have significant meaning later on, and it's this gradual unraveling that makes it so enticing. But plot is not what this movie is about anyway. It's about a fascinating conspiracy theorist character, brought to life by Mel Gibson's portrayal. Few cinematic characters are so singularly intriguing. Gibson plays a taxi driver, disturbed, eccentric, and possibly dangerous. His wild imagination inspires his newsletter of conspiracy theories. When he finds government agents after him, he realizes one of his theories may not be far off the mark. But it's much more involved than that, and while the final explanation is just as far-fetched, it's less conspicuously so and more interesting to boot.

Julia Roberts plays the "straight woman" to Gibson's eccentricity and does considerably well for a role that would have been a mere backboard in the hands of a less skilled actress. Patrick Stewart rounds out the cast as a mysterious agent whose identity is uncertain.

Bottom line: despite sporadic clumsy storytelling, Conspiracy Theory is an enjoyable, charismatic espionage thriller with some unforgettable moments. And, after all, any movie that features the fantasy classic, Ladyhawke, can't be that bad.