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(1997) (Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts) (R)

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Suspense/Thriller: A lawyer befriends a paranoid cab driver and learns that his wild conspiracy stories may actually be true.
Jerry Fletcher (MEL GIBSON) is a New York City cabdriver. He's also a raging paranoid with wild ideas about government controlled earthquakes, Oliver Stone, and the Vietnam war. Often telling his passengers of the many conspiracy theories that fill his head, he spends his down time spying upon Justice Department lawyer, Alice Sutton (JULIA ROBERTS), whom he earlier met while saving her from muggers. He's in love with her and she has a soft spot for him despite his many bizarre stories, his occasional visits to her office, and the fact that she really thinks he's crazy. After he has a close encounter with Dr. Jonas (PATRICK STEWART), a mysterious government agent who tries to interrogate Jerry, Alice is surprised to find that many government agencies are also looking for him. Still reeling over the unsolved murder of her father, she soon begins to believe Jerry's convoluted stories that slowly being to involve that murder. As more covert government people get involved, including Agent Lowry (CYLK COZART), Alice must do what she can to help Jerry who's now the subject of a massive government manhunt.
If they're fans of Gibson or Roberts (which encompasses many people), they will.
For some violence.
  • MEL GIBSON plays a paranoid man whose actions seem bizarre, but often humorous to us. He occasionally resorts to violence to escape from the menacing government agents.
  • JULIA ROBERTS plays a lawyer who befriends Jerry and other than cussing a little and shooting someone at the end to save Jerry's life, is an okay role model.
  • PATRICK STEWART plays a menacing government agent who is not a good role model.


    OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
    Featuring two of the biggest movie stars in the world, "Conspiracy Theory" is an entertaining and often hilarious romantic thriller. Helmed by director Richard Donner ("Superman," "Lethal Weapon"), the film neatly balances the thriller aspects with quite unexpected, but appreciated funny interludes. Jerry's paranoia lends itself to quite amusing moments such as seeing his padlocked fridge that, of course, is filled with locked food containers. Often times thriller-type movies that deal with corrupt government agencies are too seriously bone dry and often involve a tangled mess of a plot. No so with this feature that uses the humor to soften the edges and make everything a bit more relaxed and human. The biggest problem the film encounters is the audience's expectation of what's really going on behind the conspiracy. The explanation can't help but be a letdown, and that's the case here, but it's not too bad and the film survives this moment.

    That's mainly due to Gibson's performance. Having already shown us that he can play an edgy, slightly crazed character (in the original "Lethal Weapon"), Gibson takes that to a new level and is perfectly cast here. One only wishes that he was given a little more depth with which to work that would have made him that much more endearing to us. There are a few moments where just a brief, sad look in his eyes shows us that there's more there, and we want to know what's behind the look. As it is, most of the confusion/paranoia is played for adventure, suspense, or just plain laughs -- which is fine -- but had there been more, he could have created a more absorbing, unique character. Of course Donner's not trolling for great depth, but instead is looking to show us a good time. And that's probably why Julia Roberts was cast in this film. While certainly competent and always as pleasant as ever, anyone could have fit into her role and this only proves that she's better suited for romantic comedies than drama or suspense. Likewise, Stuart (of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" fame) is a flat villain and could also have been played by anyone.

    While the film has its goofy, if not ludicrous moments -- agents rappelling from helicopters in the middle of downtown to chase Jerry -- there are also nice, clever touches. In one scene, Jerry runs into a darkened theater to elude the agents. Showing on the screen is "Ladyhawke," one of Donner's early films and while most will miss that connection, even less will probably get the scene's offbeat take on the historical account of Lee Harvey Oswald (also reportedly filled with conspiracy theories) ducking into a theater after the JFK assassination. The film has many funny moments, is different enough to always be interesting and while it feels a bit long, "Conspiracy Theory" is an effective and enjoyable thriller. We give it a 7 out of 10.

    Violence that gets deadly and bloody at the end is what gives this film its R rating and is the worst of the material in this feature. Several people are killed and/or wounded near the end of the story which comes as a surprise since most of the rest of the movie involves just some standard movie fights and punches. Without those last scenes, the film easily could have been rated PG-13 and perhaps even PG. Beyond the violence and blood, there's no sex or nudity, only 3 "s" words, and just a few suspenseful scenes. On another note, there is a brief (less than 30 seconds) scene involving a full screen strobe light for those concerned with epileptic seizures. Since the star power of this film will draw many kids, we suggest that you examine the content to determine whether it's appropriate for them.

  • None, other than Jerry balances an empty beer bottle on his door knob to alert him when intruders are trying to get in.
  • Jerry bites and holds onto Jonas' nose, resulting in a bloody mess on both men's faces and Jerry's shirt.
  • Jerry's shirt is also a little bloody after he pulls a small piece of metal from his side.
  • Jerry is very bloody after being shot (as is Alice who tends to him) and a man who's shot and killed is also very bloody.
  • Obviously, the bad agents have both as they lie to Alice about what's going on and are responsible for what happened to Jerry and for trying to capture/interrogate him and for the deaths of several people.
  • There are a few scenes where we see delusional images as Jerry's seeing them, and they may be unsettling for very young children, but overall they aren't frightening.
  • Some viewers may find scenes listed under "Violence" as tense as well.
  • There are a few scenes where the agents chase Jerry, and while a little tense, aren't too bad. Additionally, there's one scene where agents with deadly intentions chase Alice.
  • Jonas tapes Jerry's eyes open, injects a syringe into him, and then holds him underwater trying to get him to talk.
  • There's a brief scene involving Alice thinking that someone's in her home and she slowly looks around the place.
  • Alice sneaks through a rundown section of a building where the bad guys may be lurking.
  • Handguns: Used to threaten or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Percussion Grenade: Fired into an apartment and it blows out the windows.
  • Phrases: "Shut up," "Pissed off," "Screwed up" and "Idiot."
  • During a hallucinogenic moment, Jerry drives his cab down the wrong side of the street.
  • Jerry spies on Alice with binoculars from his parked car.
  • Jerry backs his cab along a curb to park and pushes the car behind him out of the way.
  • Jerry kills a cockroach with a spatula and then hangs it back up without cleaning it.
  • Jonas tapes Jerry's eyes open, injects a syringe into him, and then holds him underwater trying to get him to talk.
  • As agents close in on him in a theater, Jerry yells "bomb" and causes everyone to panic and flee the building.
  • Jerry ties a vending cart to the back of a government truck so that as it drives away, it pulls the cart behind it crashing into other cars.
  • As Alice slowly looks through her place for an intruder, a light bulb pops as she flips a light switch.
  • There's a mild amount of such music in this film.
  • None.
  • 3 "s" words, 5 S.O.B.'s, 5 damns, 2 hells, 1 "ass," and 10 uses of "Oh God," 4 uses of "Oh my God," 2 uses of "G-damn," and 1 use each of "God," "Jesus," "Christ," "Oh Jesus," and "My God" as exclamations.
  • Jerry briefly mentions semen samples stored under Rockefeller Center.
  • A man comments (in a general conversation) that "love is just a pretty way of saying I want to sleep with you."
  • A nurse smokes in a hospital.
  • Alice's father has been murdered, but beyond that coming up in conversation, she doesn't react much to this.
  • Paranoia and mentally ill people.
  • Although not seen, it's reported that the bad government agents are responsible for several murders.
  • Jerry bangs his cab into another car and pushes it out of the way as he backs up to park.
  • Some men grab Jerry on the street, hit him on the head, and take him away.
  • Jonas tapes Jerry's eyes open, injects a syringe into him, and then holds him underwater trying to get him to talk. Moments later and out of the water, Jerry bites and holds on to Jonas' nose, kicks him in the crotch, and then kicks him backwards. Strapped to a wheelchair, he flees and rolls down a stairwell hitting two agents, one of which is knocked through a window and falls several stories to the ground (the impact is not seen).
  • Jerry holds a handgun on several cops in Alice's building.
  • Jerry, who's handcuffed to the railing from a hospital bed, hits a cop with that, knocking him out.
  • Agents fire a percussion grenade into Jerry's apartment, blowing out the windows. They then knock down his door and rush inside, only to find that he's set the place on fire.
  • Jerry knocks out an agent (not seen) and then holds a gun on Agent Lowry and then knocks him out with it.
  • Jerry slams a door into an agent and then punches him.
  • Jerry ties a vending cart to the back of a government truck so that as it drives away, it pulls the cart behind it crashing into other cars.
  • Alice attacks Jerry after thinking that he killed her father.
  • Agents grab Alice and Jerry and Jerry punches one of them.
  • A man is shot dead.
  • An agent accidentally shoots another agent who gets in his line of fire.
  • Alice whacks an agent on the back of his head and knocks out another agent.
  • Men from different agency factions shoot at each other.
  • A man punches Alice, and Jerry then grabs this man and holds him underwater. The man, however, pulls out his gun and shoots Jerry several times. Alice then fires a gun at this man, killing him.

  • Reviewed August 5, 1997

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