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you think that these people only exist in the movies , but trust me , they're as real as life .
i once talked to a guy who thought the united states government was putting satellites into orbit which could fry an individual person's brain with microwaves .
then i sat in a room full of people who believed that the government rigged state elections .
i even listened to a man who swore that nicotine was an additive that cigarette companies put in their products for the specific goal of getting people addicted .
these people had what are known as " conspiracy theories " - ideas about how unseen forces work to deceive and control the public .
a little imagination goes a long way .
in richard donner's conspiracy theory , jerry fletcher ( mel gibson ) is a new york city cab driver who seems to have a conspiracy theory about everything .
his latest , that nasa is trying to kill the president by causing an earthquake from the space shuttle , might sound outrageous to us , but is all in a day's work for him .
he combs the newspaper , looking for tidbits that leave telltale warnings about the goings-on behind the scenes , and from there jerry draws his conclusions .
upstanding citizen that he is , he tries to convince alice sutton ( julia roberts ) of the justice department that the president must be warned .
lucky gal , alice , who met jerry when he saved her from a couple of muggers and has had to listen to his theories during the six months since .
what she doesn't know is that jerry's interest in her is far more than , well , professional .
he goes to great lengths to follow her around and watch her in her own apartment .
but when some secret government types seem to take an interest in jerry's ideas and his limited-circulation " conspiracy theory " newsletter , he finds himself in danger and in real need of alice's help .
one of the problems with conspiracy theory is that it tries to pass itself off as an action-thriller when it seems to have neither a whole lot of action , nor a significant number of thrills .
part of this is a result of the film's slow pace .
it takes forever to set up the relationship between jerry and alice , and even once that is over with , the rest of the film seems to be a lot of boredom that every once in a while stops to take a break for excitement .
at over two hours , this film could have been significantly condensed and had it's running time shortened by twenty minutes to half an hour , but even then , the action scenes would not be able to save the film .
instead of truly exciting and engaging set pieces , we're treated to a few of the generic scenes with the requisite " black elements " : black helicopter , men in black action suits and body armor , black vehicles - you know the drill .
they come on down with all kinds of neat gadgets and weapons , but for some reason a guy with just a bunch of theories and some chick with no training somehow manage to elude them every time .
big deal , we've seen it all before .
watching the film , i wished donner had at least tried to use a little imagination , but i was out of luck .
now , when i say it took forever to set up the " relationship " between jerry and alice , i completely mean what one person is relative to the other , and not romantic involvement .
oh , donner and screenwriter brian helgeland would like you to believe that by the end of the movie , the two main characters will end up falling hopelessly in love with each other , but there seems to be no evidence of that ever occurring .
you see , there were more sparks between gibson and danny glover in the lethal weapon movies ( also directed by donner ) than between gibson and roberts in conspiracy theory .
the two just don't click , and when you throw in a number of happenings that would cause alice to reject jerry altogether ( like finding out he's been stalking her ) , the subsequent attraction is absolutely forced .
the script in general also seems forced , like someone sat helgeland down and forced him to write it , then took it and forced it upon us .
dialog is undistinguished and rather unmemorable , to the point that i almost stopped listening .
even gibson's usual gift for ad lib couldn't punch up the film sufficiently to raise my interest , although one of jerry's theories about oliver stone was mildly amusing .
unfortunately , much of what's discussed in the film is not inherently important to what's going on , but instead filler that starts out with potential , but ends up just being extraneous because it's never followed through .
for example , jerry professes that a man found drowned in his swimming pool was actually murdered by the government in a new york subway station .
he even goes so far as to explain that the station was flooded at the time due to a water main break ( hence the water in a subway station ) , and that the coroner should check the man's lungs for chlorine .
this is convincing enough to alice that she seems to believe him .
you know what happens then ?
nothing , zip , nada .
no follow-up whatsoever , so what's the significance ?
okay , here's another one .
a couple of well known ( real life ) assassins were found to have possessed copies of the j . d . salinger novel " the catcher in the rye " .
jerry also has a bunch of copies .
whenever he goes into a bookstore , he has to buy one .
leaving out the question of whether or not this makes jerry an assassin , we're never given a reason to believe why this would make him an assassin .
not when we find out about his salinger collection , not when he goes to the bookstore , not later on when we get the answer to our first question .
the point becomes totally extraneous .
oh , did i mention that patrick stewart is in this film ?
yeah , he plays this government psychiatrist named dr . jonas who may or may not be a bad guy .
that's about it .
for all the presence this usually marvelous actor has , he's nearly forgettable in conspiracy theory .
you can just lump him in with the supporting players , with the exception of cylk cozart who plays agent lowry of the fbi .
this guy was really likable , and i wish he and his character had gotten more screen time .
okay , here's my theory .
this really started out as a great film , but some of its jokes were actually true !
the government came in and forced donner to make edits for the sake of national security , and this was what was left over .