The Conspirator

Rated 2.0

Robert Redford’s creaky courtroom drama-cum-history lesson reveals a vindictive American government trampling the Constitution in order to avenge a national trauma, and congratulates itself for asking, “Sound familiar?” Robin Wright stars as Mary Surratt, the Confederate sympathizer accused on circumstantial evidence of abetting the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, with James McAvoy as the young Union war-hero lawyer who reluctantly defends Surratt before a hostile military tribunal. With rhetoric seemingly lifted from the outraged bumper stickers of the Bush II years, James Solomon’s script opts always for the obvious over the ambiguous; the result is a stiff hunk of lefty piety. Mostly stashed away among gauzy shafts of light in a sort of 1860s proto-Guantánamo, Wright looks austere and dignified as a tragic martyr to the history we were doomed to repeat. The similarly unchallenged supporting cast includes Tom Wilkinson, Danny Huston, Kevin Kline, Colm Meaney, Evan Rachel Wood and, inexplicably, Justin Long in a silly mustache.