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CONSPIRACY THEORY

SYNOPSIS:
Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) drives a New York cab; but in his mind there is another world out there and around him, a world where supermarket bar codes take on ominous significance, where the space shuttle hovers above the Earth on sinister missions and evil masks itself everywhere in everyday acronyms and products. He publishes a newsletter called Conspiracy Theory. And he tries very hard to convince Alice Sutton (Julia Roberts), a compassionate but sceptical Justice Department attorney, that he has something important to tell her. If only he could remember… Alice is a woman with her own doubts and suspicions, especially regarding the assassination of her father, a federal judge. When one day Jerry is abducted by the enigmatic Dr Jonas (Patrick Stewart), an urbane but secretive government psychiatrist, Jerry’s outlandish fears seem well founded. But why? As Jerry tries to reconstruct his memory, Alice finds herself torn between believing in Jerry and Dr Jonmas’ versions of the truth. The truth sets you free, she believes, but which truth? As Jerry is chased all over New York by the deadly clandestine group, the mysteries start to form a jigsaw around Alice, her dead father, Jerry and Dr Jonas. It is not a pretty picture.

"While there are opportunities lost in making this a real stunner of a movie, Conspiracy Theory works reasonably well as a combination of psycho-thriller and action drama, although a tad long even at its cut-down two hours (13 minutes shorter than originally). T he fact that writer Brian Helgeland combines these elements with a love story in which the two people can not end up together works well in giving the film a genuine heart. T hat, and exceptional production values, make up the film’s strengths, together with Burwell’s score. Julia Roberts is convincing as the Justice Department lawyer, and Patrick Stewart is terrific as the shadowy, fatally flawed Jonas, but I have trouble with Mel Gibson’s Jerry Fletcher. The ebb and flow of his persona, as he moves from the amusingly disturbed cabbie to the demented fugitive to the action hero, are not grounded in a thoroughly believable character. I am tempted to suggest, for example, that his fast talking, paranoid side as the publisher of Conspiracy Theory, owes something to Geoffrey Rush’s Oscar-winning performance as David Helfgott in Shine, with its babble-speak likeness. That wouldn’t matter, except Gibson doesn’t quite pull it off as credibly, nor is his bumbling-ness cohesive with his other parts. Like the ability to build a supersecure apartment which self destructs on attack from outside; or like the romantic action hero. He does manage his occasional quips very well, a Gibson forté, and for an undemanding action fan, his Jerry Fletcher is a likeable and familiar figure. Hate to say it, but for me, this is Harrison Ford territory. . ."
Andrew L. Urban

"Intriguing and thought-provoking, Conspiracy Theory brings a different slant to the lost-memory theme. Boasting the star-power of Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts, this thriller offers much for the fans, but somehow falls short of being a knock-out. It is certainly a little long and would benefit from tightening up. But it is well directed and offers good escapism with impressive stunts, and the sort of production design that leaves images to haunt. The kind of ideas that are developed in Jerry’s frenetic apartment are wacky enough to titillate and capture our imagination. It puts paranoia on a level to which we can all relate. Not a bad idea, actually, to lock up one’s refrigerator - great for the waist-line, anyway…. The music soundtrack is boldly melodic and colourful, weaving different designs - enhancing suspense and climactic excitement. Mel Gibson’s Jerry Fletcher is complex and paranoid yet vulnerable. While I understand Andrew’s criticisms, I feel he is a little harsh. Gibson’s performance does at times make somewhat of a jump in character, but his ability to deliver the off-beat line in any circumstance, is just superb. His scenes driving the cab are extremely credible and totally entertaining. Always enigmatic, Julia Roberts is a good balance for Gibson and delivers a credible performance as Alice. Patrick Stewart is evil personified as Dr Jonas. The paranoia developed in the film is catchy: watch out for the scene where it rubs off on Julia Roberts. It’s very real. Possibly Conspiracy Theory’s greatest strength is to get under the skin and allow that seed called paranoia to germinate."
Louise Keller

"It must have been an irresistible idea: Gibson, Roberts, Donner. Foolproof right? Well, not quite. Conspiracy Theory is a loose reworking of such seventies thrillers as The Parallax View and Three Days of the Condor, minus either film's intelligence and intrigue. While there are some good moments, the film is basically a bore, a convoluted, slow and awkward film with some fascinating ideas just waiting to burst out from the edges. What sort of a film was Donner trying to make? As a study of paranoia and conspiracy, the film is a muddle, skirting the edges. As a thriller, the film is contrived and lacking any real suspense or edginess that it so desperately needs to maintain momentum. Then there's the romantic thriller aspect, minus the romance. Gibson and Roberts lack any genuine chemistry; it's as if they were doing their thing individually, rarely feeding off each other and working together. Gibson takes too long to settle into the character he's trying to define, and he becomes a self-parody of Lethal Weapon's Martin Riggs. Roberts is the kind of actress who lacks depth at doing anything requiring drama. She looks pretty, but has a vacuousness about her that she doesn't possess in My Best Friend's Wedding, in which she is far better suited. Patrick Stewart is more interesting as the film's enigmatic villain, and there are flashes of director Donner's visual fluidity that defines much of his work. But the film is over-directed, far too long and, for the most part, tedious and contrived. The idea is fascinating enough, pity about the final execution."
Paul Fischer

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CONSPIRACY THEORY (M)
(US)

CAST: Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart, Cylk Cozart

DIRECTOR: Richard Donner

PRODUCER: Joel Silver, Richard Donner

SCRIPT: Brian Helgeland

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Schwartzman

EDITOR: Frank J. Urioste

MUSIC: Carter Burwell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paul Sylbert

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes

 

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 7, 1997







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