Jerry Fletcher is a man in love with a woman he observes from afar. She works for the government. Fletcher is an outspoken critic of that government. He has conspiracy theories for everything, from aliens to political assassinations. But soon, one of his theories finds itself to be accurate. But which one? Some dangerous people want him dead, and the only person he trusts is the woman he loves, but does not know.Written by
Steve Richer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Richard Donner): Donner is an animal-rights and pro-choice activist. The newsstand where Jerry picks up his newspapers has an anti-fur slogan on it. See more »
Jerry takes off his hat on the bus when talking to Ms. Sutton. The hat briefly reappears when he says "military industrial complex." See more »
July eighth, 1979, all the fathers of Nobel Prize winners were rounded up by United Nations military units, all right, and actually forced at gunpoint to give semen samples in little plastic jars, which are now stored below Rockefeller Center underneath the ice skating rink...
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The initial Warner Bros. logo with the clouds behind is shown - the camera then pulls back to show the logo as a billboard on the side of a bus. See more »
A memorable thriller, but also a slightly disappointing one
This romantic thriller was made over a decade ago, years before I was old enough to watch R-rated movies, and by the time I rented it just yesterday, I still didn't know much about it. However, I did know that the co-stars were Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts, two Hollywood movie stars I had been familiar with for a long time. I also knew that it was directed by Richard Donner, who directed the "Lethal Weapon" quadrilogy, which Gibson also co-starred in. I had seen all four of those films, and thought that overall, it was a good franchise. So, I rented "Conspiracy Theory" because I knew it was another film directed by Donner and starring Gibson and it also looked like a promising thriller. Still, I wanted to like it more than I did.
Jerry Fletcher is a New York taxi driver and dedicated conspiracy theorist. He can think of conspiracy theories for anything, and constantly talks to his passengers about them. He even writes his theories in his own newsletter, which is sent to only five different people in the mail. The taxi driver has a crush on Alice Sutton, and woman who works for the Justice Department and whose father was murdered, but she doesn't know about Fletcher's feelings towards her. One day, after he is kicked out of Alice's office, he is soon captured by a group of CIA agents and finds himself in a mysterious place where he is tortured by a CIA doctor named Dr. Jonas! This sends Jerry into a fit of insanity, and after he bites the doctor's nose, severely injuring him, he manages to escape from the building. It turns out that at least one of the New York taxi driver's many conspiracy theories appears to be true, but he can't tell which one it is!
The beginning shows the main character ranting to various passengers in his cab about his conspiracy theories, and this is a fairly shaky beginning. Soon after that, there's a flashy sequence showing Jerry's frightening memories, and I found this part to be a little rushed and unfocused. A lot of the film can probably be described that way. That part is followed by a cheesy and overlong scene with the taxi driver watching his love interest through her window, singing on her treadmill. Despite all this, it still looks like it's going to be at least a fairly decent thriller around the beginning and it is at times, but it's not consistent enough. The early torture scene didn't do much for me, and it even features frightening memories of Jerry's flashing before his eyes again, with the same problems as the first time this happens. Another thing that doesn't help is that Jerry's constant conspiracy theories can get tiring. Fortunately, there are definitely some good thrills and action, and Mel Gibson puts on an impressive performance as Jerry Fletcher, though his character here is no match for the likable Martin Riggs in the "Lethal Weapon" series. Julia Roberts as Alice Sutton and Patrick Stewart (another actor I've been familiar with for a long time) as Dr. Jonas are also memorable cast highlights.
At 135 minutes, this 1997 thriller is a fairly long movie, and later in the film, it didn't seem as flawed to me as it did for a long time before then. It might improve after a while, and Gibson's character might eventually get easier to sympathize with. I may have been worn out during the second half or so, and get the feeling I could have gotten just a BIT more out of the film (at least closer to the end) if I'd had a bit more energy. For that reason, I feel I could almost give it a 7/10 instead of a 6. On the other hand, I don't think having a high energy level would have hidden this movie's severe flaws from me, flaws which make "Conspiracy Theory" somewhat disappointing. Even if it does improve along the way, I would say it definitely takes quite a while to do so. This movie is by no means horrible, and could be entertaining if you like a good romantic thriller and are old enough to see the violence here, but it still didn't meet my expectations.
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