Metascore
55

Mixed or average reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 37
  2. Negative: 3 out of 37
  1. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Apr 12, 2011
    100
    No matter where your political leanings lie, the great thing about The Conspirator is that Mr. Redford is wise enough to let the audience decide what the parallels are. See it, enjoy a ripping good yarn and learn something.
  2. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Apr 13, 2011
    91
    Redford proves that at 75 he can still choose meaningful projects and deliver them with intelligence.
  3. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Apr 14, 2011
    80
    The cast is uniformly outstanding, a pleasure to watch. It's a more toned-down role for the often-fiery McAvoy, and it suits him.
  4. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Apr 21, 2011
    75
    Redford methodically presents the injustices piled on Surratt and suggests what might have prompted her stoicism. But James D. Solomon's script is often flat, perhaps in a misguided effort to be stately.
  5. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Apr 16, 2011
    75
    Redford considers this material in an unusually literate and thoughtful historical film, working from years of research by his screenwriter, James Solomon. I found it absorbing and relevant today.
  6. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Apr 15, 2011
    75
    Redford's history lesson illustrates the old maxim that those who forget history are bound to repeat it.
  7. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Apr 15, 2011
    75
    The film pivots on McAvoy's powerfully implosive performance as a man trying to grow beyond his own prejudices. His scenes with Wright, under Redford's nuanced guidance, give this film its timely resonance and its grieving heart.
  8. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Apr 14, 2011
    75
    It's precisely that fear that Redford sets out to explore. The Conspirator is all about the un-American things Americans can do when feeling collectively threatened.
  9. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Apr 14, 2011
    75
    This provocative account of a war-weary administration that denied Surratt her right to a fair trial starts slow but builds momentum in the scenes with Wright and Evan Rachel Wood as Surratt's flinty daughter, Anna.
  10. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Apr 13, 2011
    75
    May not be as emotionally compelling as John Ford's work ("The Prisoner of Shark Island"), but it's every bit as meticulously crafted.
  11. Reviewed by: Pete Hammond
    Apr 16, 2011
    70
    This handsome period piece should develop a strong afterlife on DVD and in schools.
  12. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Apr 14, 2011
    70
    The resolution and strength of Wright's unimpeachable performance makes the whole story seem flesh-and-blood real in a way that it would not otherwise be.
  13. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Apr 14, 2011
    70
    The real standout is Kevin Kline as secretary of war Edwin Stanton.
  14. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Apr 11, 2011
    70
    Wright's performance is the key to a movie that pulses with the sick thrill of historical discovery. The Conspirator reminds us that. when we surrendered so many of our Constitutional rights and judgments after 9/11, it wasn't the first time.
  15. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Apr 16, 2011
    67
    Essentially The Conspirator is a courtroom drama with occasional bulletins from the outside world. It plays out to its predictable end with the doggedness, if not the verve, of a "Law and Order" episode.
  16. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Apr 14, 2011
    65
    The bad news is that The Conspirator - doesn't have enough crackle.
  17. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Apr 14, 2011
    63
    In The Conspirator, Wright announces in no uncertain terms that she is back and more than ready for her close-up.
  18. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Apr 15, 2011
    60
    Historical records being what they are, the filmmakers are forced to speculate about certain things, but where facts are known they generally adhere to them.
  19. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Apr 14, 2011
    60
    Like his 2007 political drama, "Lions for Lambs," Robert Redford's fictionalized chronicle of Mary Surratt's 1865 trial is high-minded and slow-moving. Some may chafe at his unsubtle sermonizing, but strong central performances will reward the patient.
  20. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Apr 12, 2011
    60
    There's no Deep Throat this time, 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, a man seeking to hang prisoners out of political expediency. It all seems a little forced.
  21. 60
    The screenwriter, James Solomon, does the poor job only a liberal could at making the case for a Cheneyesque "dark side," and he isn't helped by Kline's wooden acting. Too bad. The Conspirator is eloquent enough to let the other side have its say.
  22. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Apr 12, 2011
    58
    While Redford frames the drama with a tense atmosphere, it doesn't shake the sense that we're watching a tame made-for-TV affair.
  23. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Apr 29, 2011
    50
    Redford hasn't moved too far here from an earlier political-thriller template: With its skulduggery, late-night meetings and the contemptuous political cabal out to thwart justice, The Conspirator can be thought of as "All the President's Men – The Lincoln Edition."
  24. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Apr 16, 2011
    50
    This methodical courtroom drama is charged with impassioned performances and an unimpeachable liberal message. But its stodgy emphasis on telling over showing will limit its reach to Civil War buffs and self-selecting older viewers.
  25. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Apr 16, 2011
    50
    Less a movie than an extended re-enactment from a History Channel documentary, the movie is stagey, preachy, and long on exposition.
  26. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Apr 16, 2011
    50
    The movie is stiff-jointed and dull.
  27. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Apr 15, 2011
    50
    Instead of entertaining us, director Robert Redford offers us a handsome history lesson that's as dry as a hardtack biscuit.
  28. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Apr 14, 2011
    50
    An important film, on an important subject, that has had the life beaten out of it by Robert Redford, a man who should know better.
  29. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Apr 14, 2011
    50
    The film has little flash of life and energy.
  30. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Apr 14, 2011
    50
    Heartbreakingly average, director Robert Redford's The Conspirator errs in the way so many films do, especially films about unsung pieces of American history. It focuses on the wrong character.
  31. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Apr 11, 2011
    50
    In The Conspirator, one wishes that the director had found the grace to touch upon, rather than belabor, the parallels between the conspirators of 1865 and the present-day inmates of Guantánamo.
  32. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Apr 14, 2011
    42
    The film is as one-sided and overstacked as anything her prosecutors dreamed up. And the craft of the thing is so pedestrian as to crawl.
  33. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Apr 14, 2011
    42
    The Conspirator should skip theaters altogether and become the first film released straight to middle-school history classes, where the standards for what can generously be deemed entertainment are much lower.
  34. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Apr 14, 2011
    40
    The few glimpses we catch of the Ford's Theater production of "Our American Cousin" are unfortunately the liveliest and most convincing moments in this well-meaning, misbegotten movie.
  35. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    Apr 12, 2011
    30
    The film is a burdensome two hours.
  36. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Apr 15, 2011
    25
    The Conspirator hits a new nadir for Redford: Sitting through this stage-bound, talky, stiffly-acted movie reminded me of having to endure the Hall of Presidents attraction at Walt Disney World (one of the few existing bits of proof that Disney had a dark and evil side).
  37. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Apr 14, 2011
    20
    Like most other members of an excellent cast that includes James McAvoy, Kevin Kline and Tom Wilkinson, she (Robin Wright) has come under the deadening directorial hand of Robert Redford.
User Score
6.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 41 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 17
  2. Negative: 1 out of 17
  1. Apr 26, 2011
    9
    I saw this film five days ago and I'm still haunted by the quiet power of this engaging film. Redford's careful and patient directionI saw this film five days ago and I'm still haunted by the quiet power of this engaging film. Redford's careful and patient direction magically allows the film to take its time without ever feeling boring or stale. James McAvoy continues to grow into a passionate lead actor and Robin Wright should immediately jump to the top of a short list for a potential Best Supporting Actress nomination for this understated performance. However, the REAL star of this gorgeous looking film is Newton Thomas Sigel for his amazing cinematography which should garner him his first Oscar nomination for his work here.I don't know how he did it, but the muted colors, simulated natural lighting, and fluid camera movement gives the impeccably detailed sets, costumes, and make-up an uncanny look of historical realism that has lingered in my mind for days now. This is one that I look forward to seeing see a second time, and will be buying for my collection once it comes out on Blu-Rayâ Full Review »
  2. Apr 19, 2011
    9
    Excellent movie! Redford does a good job of presenting the story in a way that captures your interest and uses the Civil War time frame toExcellent movie! Redford does a good job of presenting the story in a way that captures your interest and uses the Civil War time frame to convey the clear message that when military tribunals are used to trample on basic constitutional rights everyone loses. Robin Wright and James McEvoy did an excellent job. I found the movie thoroughly engrossing and powerful. Full Review »
  3. Feb 28, 2012
    5
    My rating is actually a C+, almost worth seeing. If not that it was based on actual events and Mr. Redford tried to stay true to what happensMy rating is actually a C+, almost worth seeing. If not that it was based on actual events and Mr. Redford tried to stay true to what happens to the characters it would have been below average. Most of the big names have small parts and don't have enough to spread their wings. The film is left to Ms. Wright and Mr. McAvoy. He is dull, boring, and never won me over so I could root for him. One may say that the only character to get behind is Mary (Ms. Wright) but she plays the role so blandly, never letting me know what she knew. Without that, I have to guess (what some critics think is positive) and my conclusion is she should have known what was going on and if she did , did not want to step in. She doesn't come across as afraid so why? Certainly her treatment in the American justice system was deplorable, perhaps overly melodramatic, but things did change after her trial. Perhaps for history buffs, but falls short on it's own. Full Review »