The Conspirator

2011

The Conspirator

Critics Consensus

The Conspirator is well cast and tells a worthy story, but many viewers will lack the patience for Redford's deliberate, stagebound approach.

55%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 169

61%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 21,171
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Movie Info

In the wake of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, seven men and one woman are arrested and charged with conspiring to kill the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State. The lone woman charged, Mary Surratt (Wright) owns a boarding house where John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell) and others met and planned the simultaneous attacks. Against the ominous back-drop of post-Civil War Washington, newly-minted lawyer, Frederick Aiken (McAvoy), a 28-year-old Union war-hero, reluctantly agrees to defend Surratt before a military tribunal. Aiken realizes his client may be innocent and that she is being used as bait and hostage in order to capture the only conspirator to have escaped a massive manhunt, her own son, John (Johnny Simmons). As the nation turns against her, Surratt is forced to rely on Aiken to uncover the truth and save her life. -- (C) Official Site

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Cast

James McAvoy
as Frederick Aiken
Tom Wilkinson
as Reverdy Johnson
Evan Rachel Wood
as Anna Surratt
Kevin Kline
as Edwin Stanton
Justin Long
as Nicholas Baker
Danny Huston
as Joseph Holt
Robin Wright
as Mary Surratt
Colm Meaney
as Gen. David Hunter
James Badge Dale
as William Hamilton
Johnny Simmons
as John Surratt
Toby Kebbell
as John Wilkes Booth
Jonathan Groff
as Louis Weichman
Stephen Root
as John Lloyd
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News & Interviews for The Conspirator

Critic Reviews for The Conspirator

All Critics (169) | Top Critics (46)

  • This may be a talky court drama, competent rather than inspired, but the fact that it is based on truth lends its argument force.

    Jul 1, 2011 | Rating: 3/5
  • A very stately, bland piece of work, perhaps best shown to high school history classes.

    Jun 30, 2011 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Atmospheric, illuminating and affecting, The Conspirator captivates like an untold story -- one that you can't believe you've never heard until now, and won't soon forget.

    May 6, 2011 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
  • Once the ideological cat is out of the bag, the drama is degraded to the level of a historical pageant.

    Apr 29, 2011 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Leaves us feeling as empty as a raided tomb.

    Apr 28, 2011 | Rating: 2/4
  • A bracing courtroom drama whose every scene seems wreathed in mist, dust motes and cigar smoke, the better to suggest a nation befogged by grief.

    Apr 22, 2011 | Full Review…

    John Anderson

    Newsday
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Conspirator

  • Mar 14, 2016
    Destined for American high school level history classrooms, this concerns the rushed trial the assassins of Abraham Lincoln, and asks if some Constitutional guarantees were tossed aside in order to achieve quick vengeance, as well as the execution of the first woman in U.S. history. It's a Robert Redford film and so reeks of quiet grace despite the pace being that of a dying-friend-in-the-hospital visit. The work of all onscreen is exemplary, particularly Robin Wright.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 14, 2015
    The Conspirator is one of the best true story/historical films I've seen. Nothing needed to have been added or taken from this accurate accounting of events for dramatic purposes. Without exaggeration, this is a legal story like no other; this is much more fascinating than fiction. I thought I knew this story, but I really didn't know the facts at all-just the headlines involving Booth. Those involved in this project did masterful jobs. Robert Redford crafts a revealing look at the rush to judgement. This tale of scapegoat justice is just as applicable in our time as in 1865. McAvoy and Wilkinson are spectacular, and Robin Wright displays a stoic sort of grace I haven't seen before. I can't imagine another actress capturing this woman's essence any better.
    Clintus M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 04, 2014
    A controversial historical biopic, The Conspirator is an impassioned political drama from director Robert Redford. The film follows defense attorney Frederick Aiken as he attempts to defend Mary Surratt, who's charged as a conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, but he soon discovers that the trial is more about politics than truth. Redford takes a decidedly pro-Surratt position and is very condemning of the tribunal system that was used to try the assassination conspirators. Still, the plot addresses some fascinating issues and themes about war, justice, and law. The cast is also extraordinarily good, featuring James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood, and Tom Wilkinson. The Conspirator takes a few liberties with history, but it's a well-crafted and compelling film that asks provocative questions.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 20, 2013
    The film portrays the aftermath of Lincolns murder; the trial of those who were caught in the act. However, the focus here is on the defense of Mary Surratt, the mother of one of the suspects who allegedly escapes the crime scene.successfully, The execution of the movie is quite conventional, but its roller-coaster story makes it watchable enough. Of course, it wont be all the same interesting for those of us who are well versed with history (or, for that matter, any subject as far as I'm concerned). The courtroom dramas are usually known for their fiery dialogues/sequences, but there's hardly any here. All these deficiencies, coupled with average performances, doesn't let the movie rise above mediocrity. All in all, its a passable fare. The conspiracy to kill the President followed by the conspiracy to send a seemingly innocent woman to gallows only goes on to prove how aptly the flick is titled. If only it were equally great in other departments too......... 4.5/10
    familiar s Super Reviewer

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