2011-05-13 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

‘The Conspirator’ – Linkin’ Assassination To Landlady

Ever liberal Robert Redford brings his considerable filmmaking talent to a board-stroke stab at the U.S. military justice system in “The Conspirator.”

Ostensibly about the trial of convicted Abraham Lincoln assassin, Mary Surratt (Robin Wright), “The Conspirator” is, in fact, Producer-Director Redford’s attack on the trying of 9/11 suspects in military court. Lucky for him, as the film opened, the Obama Administration reversed its prior decision by announcing the case of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four others would be heard by military tribunal. This brings relevance to a film what may have merely found its place among other historical artifacts.

After assassination hits take place on President Lincoln, Secretary of State William H. Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson, the conspirators are rounded up, including Mrs. Surratt, who owns the boarding house where the plotters met. Running the show, Dick Cheney-style, iron-fisted Sectary of War Edwin M. Stanton (Kevin Kline) is not really interested in Mary. He wants her son, John Surratt (Johnny Simmons), one of the true conspirators and still in hiding. Roped into the role of Mary’s defense attorney is Union war heroturned attorney Frederick Aiken (James McAvory). At first skeptical of his client’s innocence, Aiken grows obsessive about ensuring she gets a fair trial, becoming Redford’s mouthpiece for diatribes involving civil liberties and courtroom rights in peace and war. In the end, Mary’s guilt or innocence are unimportant in the face of maintaining a moral justice code.

“The Conspirator” is solid drama on all levels, though not outstanding.

Maybe, Redford should have freed his team from the yoke of political bias.

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