New On Netflix: Conspiracy Theory

[BoxTitle]Conspiracy Theory[/BoxTitle] [Netflix] [NetflixAdd id="1172103"/] [NetflixWatch id="1172103"/]

It’s a bit creepy to revisit this 1997 action thriller, as to watch it might be to look into the funhouse mirror image of Mel Gibson‘s off-camera descent into actual madness. Mel, working with director Richard Donner for the fifth time following three Lethal Weapons (with one more still to come in 1998) and Maverick, plays an obsessive-compulsive New York City cabbie who yammers his various conspiracy theories to his passengers before retiring to his secluded pig sty of an apartment where he keeps coffee and tapioca pudding in padlocked canisters and puts together his self-published newsletter (for which he has five subscribers); one of his cockamamie stories ends up being a little too close to the truth for a bunch of CIA spooks, which sets him on the run with a Justice Department attorney (Julia Roberts) with whom he’s strangely obsessed. Conspiracy Theory gets more and more preposterous as it goes along, but it moves so fast that you might not even notice until well after the closing credits; you also have to give props to a movie where Patrick Stewart, as the shady government agent who’s leading the hunt for Gibson, gets his nose bitten off in his very first scene. What makes the film almost completely derail isn’t Brian Helgeland’s silly script but Mel’s twitchy, oddball performance, which seems simultaneously both overwrought and too underplayed — as he’s often painful to watch in his awkwardness, maybe he could’ve used an actual director on this rather than his good buddy Dick Donner.


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