The Conspirator (2010)


The Conspirator (2010)I see The Conspirator (2010) very much as a sequel to Lincoln (2012) which preceded the events up to President Abraham Lincoln‘s assassination by John Wilkes BoothOf course we see the event in the latter film treated more as a finishing point to a glorious film that depicted the political struggle by the president to end the civil war and abolish slavery. The Conspirator picks up where this historic event happened, from the build up of the fatal attempt on Lincoln’s to a mis-carriage of justice on a suspected conspirator to the crime, a Mary Surratt (Robin Wright) who’s boarding house was used by the accused assassins who I learned did more than kill the president on that fateful night. 

Without having seen any other Robert Redford directed films I felt this came across like a HBO film with all the gloss and style that came with it which both gave it a rich historical look and a very polished finish. Probably seen as a prestige picture that goes against the grain of what is American on the face of it, when a defence lawyer Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) a former Union captain defends Surratt. Who even he believes is guilty for a time, wanting to shirk off the case that has been left at his door by Senator Reverdy Johnson (Tom Wilkinson). It’s only when the prosecution’s case begins do we see how slanted it is towards a conviction and execution at any cost, even the military judges have already made their minds up. Of course there is a need to wrap up this awful affair and bring justice so the country can move on. At what cost, that of a possibly innocent woman who just happened to rent her rooms out to a number of the assassins. its possible. But when a country wants blood and revenge, it must be delivered.

Reflecting the recent hunger for justice with the Bush Jr. administration that see’s countless men being locked up in Guantanamo Bay without fair trial. A very controversial prison which protected the country, but bot the rights of the prisoners who suffered in there, guilty or not. Moving that idea into the past to another controversial time when answers were needed, all rights went out of the window to preserve the peace of the country that was still suffering pockets of Confederate resistance.

On the face of it, the concept for this film is very strong and contemporary for its time. Being a legal dram in a historical guise it’s very heavy going, there’s a lot of talking and not enough scenes where the visuals take-over, left for the beginning and end where needed. There are times where I was lost in the lighting which can loose you to that time. Well acted by all involved with many familiar faces, some I just found annoying and out of place in that period. Something was missing, time to think, digest and enjoy, all the while moving at break-neck speed to ensure justice would prevail.

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2 responses

  1. A large cast that does pretty well. Yet, still feels like they are just there for Redford to get on his soap-box and preach like no tomorrow. Good review Tim.

    June 18, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    • Cheers mate, there is a lot of the “power of justice” being rammed home

      June 19, 2014 at 6:25 pm

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