The Conspirator review

Robert Redford
Robin Wright
James McAvoy
Evan Rachel Wood
Alexis Bledel
Rated: PG-13

The Conspirator takes place after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, at the end of the Civil War. With Lincoln killed the, the government decides to go after the perpetrators. However, they not only go after the ones directly involved, but their loved ones as well, like Mary Suratt (Wright), whose son used her boarding house as a meeting place for rebels looking to do the assassination attempt. Therefore, Suratt is put up to trial in a Military Tribunal.

This is where our protagonist comes in. Frederick Aiken, a decorated war hero who fought for the north turned lawyer is set to defend Suratt. Aiken is at first taken back, believing that she must have been involved someway or another, which creates friction since he has to defend her. But as time goes on, Aiken begins to learn how and why what the government is doing is wrong, and he begins to change over the film.

The story of the Conspirator may seem at first like a typical court room drama, yet over time it evolves into something about where a person’s loyalties lye. The main character is forced to take a deeper look into the Constitution and the laws that the United State’s has, while at the same time have memories of his service in the war and his ideals that he thought he was fighting for.

Because of this aspect of the film, it becomes much less about the courtroom with the lawyer scrounging for evidence and trying to make a decent case, and more about the evolution of a man who starts out as completely closed off to any other ideas of what may have happened to being a more open minded individual. And it is delivered fairly well here by James McAvoy.

Ever since “Last King of Scotland,” McAvoy has been on my good side, and this role helped to keep him there. He really shines in the role and has a believable transition of character through out the film, not too fast and not too slow.

We especially get on his side as he continually tries to win his case even with so many, including his own client giving him trouble. Starring opposite was Robin Wright whose character I’ll admit was difficult to enjoy at times due to her extreme stubborn attitude however Wright still did a good job in the part.

The film’s supporting cast wasn’t as strong however and this is really where it fell flat for me. To start off with, Justin Long delivered what I would already call one of the absolute worst performances of the year. While everyone else is making an effort to be and act like a person in the later 1800, he talks like he just got off the set of one of those Apple commercials. I get the feeling from the rest of the cast as well, while some do deliver fairly OK jobs in their parts, I always felt they weren’t doing as good as our main two leads. This took me out of the film at times and it felt like a TV movie.

The general idea of The Conspirator is a good one, it takes a look at how a man can change his mind set and what the Government will do to cover things up, The main two performances are well done as well, however because of the weaker performances from the supporting cast I will just have to put this at a high 3 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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