Well, Val Kilmer’s gone all the way. After some serious flirtation over the last few years, he’s finally made it to the under ninety minute direct-to-video action movie. But, given he’s Val Kilmer and he’s difficult, Conspiracy is no simple ex-Marine direct-to-video revenge action movie. Oh, no, with the director and screenwriter of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Kilmer’s taking on Halliburton. Well, it’s not called Halliburton, it’s called Halicorp and its CEO (played by Gary Cole) is actually George W. Bush–from the lines about the unworked hands doing nothing but counting money–mixed with a little Dick Cheney–he really, really likes guns. There’s also a whole bit about Cole running a vigilante border patrol, which I’m not sure Halliburton’s CEO actually does. The whole border thing works into Conspiracy‘s message about Republicans war profiteering then paying illegal immigrants instead of citizens….
There are actually a couple neat things in the movie. The political angle, when it’s not being spotlighted, is sort of amusing. It’s strange to see. There’s also a good surprise for Val Kilmer’s character. Unfortunately, Conspiracy never addresses the fact Kilmer’s grossly obese. Maybe if it had been about him being grossly obese, it would have been more like an actual narrative. Like if the stunt double hadn’t been some über-fit young guy. But the obesity is never addressed and the backstory makes little sense, especially given Kilmer’s age. And the flashbacks with the big Kilmer don’t seem reasonable.
The movie’s real cheap–there’s maybe one or two squibs in the whole thing–and Marcus is somewhat inventive. He’s no good as a director, but there’s the occasional sign he’s trying. Except for the first act, when there’s no score, just poorly chosen country music. Apparently, the whole thing is just an uncredited rip-off of Bad Day in Black Rock. Conspiracy takes place in an old West town, with some lame excuse in the story about Cole building a theme park or some nonsense. I’m assuming it was cheap to film on an old West set. And the Dunkin’ Donuts being there is actually pretty funny.
Until the political rhetoric starts, the only thing keeping Conspiracy interesting is watching Kilmer debase himself. Kilmer doesn’t even pretend to do anything interesting. Cole’s got some amusing moments playing the Mr. Big, but Kilmer’s got nothing. Except the scenes with kids. All the kid actors with lines are awful, but Kilmer plays those scenes really well. Adds a nice layer, or at least it suggests Kilmer’s still capable of adding layers. The only other actor with a recognizable name, Jennifer Esposito is pretty bad.
Conspiracy is another of the made in New Mexico movies Kilmer has taken to do… I figure he just drives twenty minutes or so and gets free Dunkin’ Donuts, but this one is a piece of crap, versus the one I saw previously (Blind Horizon). Conspiracy really needed a decent writer and a decent director. Eventually, when Kilmer goes Rambo (as my wife put it–she also pointed out Stallone’s much older than Kilmer and in far better shape), Marcus should have been able to do something cost effective. Instead, he went goofy.
I mean, the best acting work Kilmer’s done in a couple years has been a guest spot on “Numb3rs,” which is almost as embarrassing as having Conspiracy in your oeuvre.
Directed by Adam Marcus; written by Marcus and Debra Sullivan; director of photography, Ben Weinstein; edited by Eric L. Beason; music by Sujin Nam; produced by Gilbert Dumontet and Alison Semenza; released by Stage 6 Films.
Starring Val Kilmer (MacPherson), Gary Cole (Rhodes), Jennifer Esposito (Joanna), Jay Jablonski (Deputy Foster), Greg Serano (Miguel Silva), Stacy Marie Warden (Carly), Christopher Gehrman (E.B.) and Bob Rumnock (Sherrif Bock).