Conspiracy Theory (1997 with Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts)

USA / 1997

Writer: Brian Helgeland / Director: Richard Donner

Cast: Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart, Cylk Cozart

Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) is a New York taxi driver who believes in every conpiracy theory going – flouridation is a plot to weaken free will, NASA plans to engineer an earthquake to kill the President – and as well as telling anyone who’ll listen, he publishes a magazine with a readership nudging double figures. He’s also obsessed with Alice Sutton (Julia Roberts), a government attorney who he spies on at her office.

Then he’s kidnapped and interrogated by mysterious forces who want to know how he knows what he knows. Drugged and dumped, he realises that one of the conspiracies he believes in is true; but which one? When he approaches Alice for help, she dismisses him as a madman until evidence begins to mount that maybe, just maybe he has accidentally uncovered a real and potentially lethal conspiracy…

Richard Donner’s taut thriller brings out the best from its two leads, with Gibson conveying just the right smell of paranoia and Roberts the air of cynicism until the truth begins to become transparent. Helgeland’s script is sharp and very funny at times, with Gibson’s character given some smart lines and Patrick Stewart as the mysterious Dr Jonas is a satisfyingly malignant villain (and, uniquely, one without a nose!).