Conspiracy Theory

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 2:15 Long
A Review by:
Stu Gotz

Conspiracy Theory
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Warner Bros.
Release Date: 1997
Kiddie Movie: Not really.
Date Movie: Bring them along!
Gratuitous Sex: Julia keeps her clothes on. Damn.
Gratuitous Violence: Some good killing and torture scenes.
Action: Lots of chases with blacked-out windowed sport utility vehicles and black helicopters.
Laughs: Some subtle spots.
Memorable Scene: Oddly enough, for such a good movie, not really.
Memorable Quote: You have to see the movie to understand it, but Jerry says “Alice – You can fit through there?”
Directed By: Richard Donner

(Editor’s Warning: Do you hate when people give away the ending of a movie, thus spoiling it for you? Well, if so, quit reading, and go see “Conspiracy Theory” based on the fact that Stu would have given it 4.5 stars except he feels the director, producer, or whoever had the final say, ruined the ending. With that, Stu gives it 3.5 out of 5 stars, and if you read the review and get pissed about ruining most of the surprises, don’t say I didn’t warn you! The Dude on the Right)

AAARRRGGG!!! This movie totally pissed me off! All was fine and this movie was well on its way to receiving 4.5 out of 5 stars from me until the last five or so minutes. In those last minutes I suspect Hollywood producer types whored this movie out and thereby lost a complete star from me.

“Conspiracy Theory” started off great, and the whole opening credits thing was done in a cool way too! In it we have Mel Gibson driving a cab through the streets of New York City, spouting off crazy theories about anything to his passengers as the intro credits are reflected off parts of his cab. I thought it was cool. Anyway, Mel plays Jerry Fletcher, a kooky, paranoid NYC cabby that makes “The X-Files” Fox Mulder credible. Well, crazy conspiracies are not the only problem that Jerry has, he thinks that somebody is out to get him. As the movie goes, we find out his his suspicions are not without merit and that, in fact, several unknown government agencies are keeping tabs on Jerry. But, are they really with the government?

Enter Patrick “Jean Luke Picard” Stewart, playing Dr. Jonas. Patrick does a great job of being the bad guy in this movie. Oops… Did I give too much away by telling you that Dr. Jonas was the bad guy? Sorry about that, I guess I probably shouldn’t mention that Jerry dies in the end. Oh shit! There I go again spouting theories! Sorry about that – just deal with it. And if you quit reading now and go see the movie, you’ll at least get one surprise perpetrated by me. Anyhow, Jerry is smitten with Alice Sutton, played by the lovely Julia Roberts, a NYC Justice Department Official and, well, this is getting boring.

OK, Jerry isn’t nuts – he was a brainwashed, highly trained killer, but doesn’t remember it. To ruin more of the movie for you, one of his missions was to kill Alice’s father but couldn’t because he fell in love with Alice the first time he saw her. Well, the bad guys are pissed, especially when Jerry was going to work with Alice’s father to expose them, so they kill the dad anyway, and while dad is dying he asks Jerry to watch out for his daughter. (This really isn’t part of the movie, just Jerry recollecting his memory to Alice). Well, Jerry ends up as a cabby, stalking and protecting Alice, but the bad guys have to find Jerry to see if he told anyone else what they had planned. By a strange twist of fate, Jerry ends up dragging Alice into his whole mess, they get chased, Jerry burns his apartment, they get chased some more, we find that the black helicopters are real, Jerry gets shot, the bad guy (Dr. Jonas) is dead, and as Jerry is helicoptered away we see him getting the electric paddles to try to revive him.

Did I ruin enough of this film yet? No? Well read on as to why I threw away one of the stars. So, as the helicopter is flying through the sky, you’re left wondering if Jerry is dead. Cut to the next scene – Alice is standing at Jerry’s grave where she leaves behind a memento that Jerry had given her. Woo hoo, Jerry’s dead! Now cut to the next scene – Alice is riding a horse, something she hasn’t done since her father’s death, and although we are sad that Jerry died, we are happy that Alice has fought the ghosts that haunted her and is getting on with her life. I loved it. I was set on 4 1/2 stars. I had a tear in my eye but a good feeling in my heart. “Come on, roll the credits and let me go home!” I thought. But the credits didn’t roll. No, instead of the standard rolling list of actors, best boy, grips, music, and the other stuff, a black sport utility type vehicle pulls up, Jerry scopes out Alice, Alice finds the memento she placed on Jerry’s grave pinned by the saddle, Alice smiles, and Jerry rides away in a sing-a-long with his government agents/chauffeurs.

Now I’m pissed. Why did they have to do it? Why couldn’t Jerry be dead? Is it too much to ask Hollywood to make a sad movie? Why must there always be happy endings? Life isn’t always happy so why should our movies be? AAARRRGGG!!!

Like I said, “Conspiracy Theory” was (was being the operative word) a great conspiracy/mystery movie, with a touch of action and just a hint of romance. Mel Gibson was a wonderfully believable, paranoid nut-ball, NYC cabby. I think Mel has always done a great job in his strictly action movies, but has had horrible luck in the romantic comedy department (“Maverick,” “Bird on a Wire”… Need I say more?). Well Mel’s luck has turned in this movie and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that the movie’s producer and director didn’t have an identity crisis on what they wanted this movie to be. They could have ruined this movie with the whole romance thing – an easy thing to do with the gorgeous Julia Roberts and the sexy Mel Gibson (did I just call another man sexy? Yikes!), but they didn’t. They could have ruined this movie by turning it into a totally cheese-ball action spy flick, but they didn’t. They could have ruined this movie with a cheesy, happy ending – that they did. “Conspiracy Theory” followed a simple good guy versus bad guy mystery that worked quite well, and although not of Hitchcock quality, it flowed and had you second guessing a lot of things at times. Had Jerry stayed dead it would have been 4 1/2 stars, but, Jerry lives, and for me that blew a perfectly good movie. That makes it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. Despite its ending “Conspiracy Theory” is a good movie, ’nuff said, and I’m Stu Gotz.