The Conspirator

  • Film
  • Drama
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For all his roles and causes, Robert Redford remains the crusader from ‘All the President’s Men’, skulking around Washington at night. Redford’s new film as director is an 1865-set courtroom drama following the murder of Abraham Lincoln and strains for timeliness with themes of terrorism and injustice.

But thematically we’re back in the mess of Watergate as James McAvoy’s lawyer knocks on judges’ doors for desperate stays of execution, and the truth dangles just out of reach. There’s no Deep Throat, but Tom Wilkinson does his best Ben Bradlee as a hawkish legal mentor, while Kevin Kline coos menacingly as Lincoln’s Nixonian war secretary, Edwin Stanton. It’s all a little forced.

The movie lacks a compelling defendant: the real-life Mary Surratt, mother to one of the plotters, was most likely railroaded into guilt by association. But as played by a wan Robin Wright, she’s too cryptic and quiet – an empty vessel for Redford to fill with his lefty sympathy. James Solomon’s script plays it coy, even as a hazy, angelic light bathes Mary in the witness box. Redford wants to make the angry movie of his glory days. The effort is admirable, even if his whole team isn’t with him.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday July 1 2011
Duration: 122 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Robert Redford
Screenwriter: James D Solomon
Cast: Robin Wright
James McAvoy
Tom Wilkinson

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