Directed by: Richard Donner
Starring: Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts
There is more than what (or whom) meets the eye to the obviously talented Mountain Xpress staffers -- one of them, production artist Jean Williams, turns out to be a hobbling (she recently broke her ankle) encyclopedia of information about film. I had been bugging her to critique a movie, but she was too shy to try her hand at writing until I threatened to sic Spawn on her good ankle. It is a great treat for all of us (except for Spawn, who was really looking forward to lunch) to discover that Jean writes as well as she lays out ads, and that she was willing to apply her vast insight about film making to the complex Conspiracy Theory. Please read on:
The truth will set you free ... but what is the truth? The ravings of a die-hard paranoiac or a calm official telling you what you want to hear? Conspiracy Theory is the kind of movie for which Director Donner (Lethal Weapons 1,2 and 3, Inside Moves, Maverick, etc.) is known -- a film with a smooth stream of action laced with sharp edges of suspense. There are no lulls in the story's movement, and only a few pockets of predictability. As with most Donner films, it would be wise to prepare yourself for some extreme scenes -- some painful, some moving -- but, in the case of Conspiracy Theory, all necessary. The emotional purity of both lead characters clears the way for the twisted and intense tale that envelopes them. Roberts is the perfect balance for Gibson -- the lighthouse in the storm for his performance as the vulnerable Jerry Fletcher. And Gibson is the loose wire for Roberts' contained approach to Alice Sutton -- the driving force behind her willingness to believe in him, and to risk it all for the truth. As the film opens, we discover that Alice Sutton is a dedicated Justice Department attorney, who is still grieving the loss of her noted federal-judge father, who was mysteriously murdered several years earlier. Jerry Fletcher is a dedicated paranoiac, whose bizarre mental gymnastics are camouflaged by his profession as a Manhattan cabbie. When these two opposites attract, they find that they both have unfinished business with their pasts -- and that, perhaps, each holds the key to the other's unsolved mysteries. Serving as the lock barring any revelation of these mysteries is Patrick Stewart as Dr. Jonas, the calm official telling them what they want to hear -- dignified slime, if you will, hiding behind the respectability of a suit and tie. Conspiracy Theory suffers from some holes in its story line -- leaving us with some critically unanswered questions. But action and intrigue are the essence of the film, and, hey, aren't there times when we all harbor thoughts of being watched by some unknowable, threatening "they" and, like Jerry, just need someone to listen and believe?