Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review: An old-fashioned Civil War courtroom drama made with scrupulous attention to detail without ever becoming very compelling.
Robin Wright ...
James McAvoy ...
Evan Rachel Wood ...
Alexis Bledel ...
Justin Long ...
Tom Wilkinson ...
Norman Reedus ...
Kevin Kline ...
Danny Huston ...
Stephen Root ...
Toby Kebbell ...
John Wilkes Booth
The accused co-conspirator in the murder of president Abraham Lincoln is Mary Surratt
(Robin Wright), the mother of one of the accused and proprietress of a boarding house where the plotters regularly
met. At the urging of Senator Reverdy Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), who’s
concerned that she’s being railroaded by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton
(Kevin Kline) and his military tribunal headed by General Hunter (Colm
Meaney), Union Officer and lawyer Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy)
reluctantly agrees to defend her, despite the long odds.
The film directed by Robert Redford centers on Aiken’s growing conviction that Surratt might
not be guilty and his efforts to prod the court into acting in a
genuinely just fashion, or at least to show mercy toward his client, who
faces the possibility of becoming the first woman to be executed in US
history. To succeed he must overcome the influence of Stanton, who’s
determined to end the political turmoil caused by the assassination by
swift retributive sentences against all the accused. He must also deal
with the increasing animosity of the public to his efforts, including old
army friends like Nicholas Baker (Justin Long), whose life he was
instrumental in saving on the battlefield.
Although The Conspirator may be attractively mounted, have beautiful period design and be factually accurate, it lacks
dramatic urgency. Even at the climax when there should be a good
deal of tension about whether a reprieve will be granted to Surratt or
not, it never becomes very compelling.