11 Badass Conspiracy Theory Movies27
11 Badass Conspiracy Theory Movies
Even with Bush out of the oval office, and 9/11 many years in our rear view mirror, America is still fascinated by conspiracy theories. Why? Well, who doesn’t love tapped phones, untraceable weapons, and secret government agents in Ray Bans?
Perhaps you’re one of the many who believe that the government or corporate America is recording everything we do and say. And if you’re anything like Daniel McCarthy from the new KoldCast series, “Tyranny”, maybe you’re even on a quest to do something about it. But conspiracy theorist or not, you have to admit it’s fun to ponder the possibilities, and even moreso to watch the little guy kick some serious Big Brother ass. To get you in the mood for the first few bad-ass episodes of “Tyranny”, here’s a compilation of badass films that dabble in conspiracies both eerily realistic and hyper-realistic. If we left any of your favorites off, please let us know in the comment section!
1. JFK (1991)
In perhaps the most famous example of the genre, Oliver Stone blends fact and fiction to present the elaborate counter-theories behind the John F. Kennedy assassination. Complete with magic bullets, hidden shooters, government cover-ups, homosexual escapades, and Cuban freedom fighters, the film’s conspiracy elements are as frantic and jarring as its chaotic editing. Though JFK was attacked for factual inaccuracies that attracted a heap of controversy, the film fomented public curiosity that led to the passage of The President John F. Kennedy Assassinatino Records Collection Act of 1992 and the formation of the U.S. Assassination Records Review Board.
2. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Based on Richard Condon’s 1959 novel of the same name, this classic film tells the story of a communist plot to assasinate American political figures by brainwashing the son of a prominent political family. Released during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the film captured the political turmoil of its decade, revived the hysteria of 50′s McCarthyism, and fortuitously presaged the conspiracies following Kennedy’s imminent assassination.
3. All the President’s Men (1976)
This retelling of the Watergate scandal proves that, sometimes, truth is more entertaining than fiction. The film recounts the investigative efforts of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to uncover the truth behind the infamous Watergate break-in and the Nixon Administration’s campaign to sabotage its rivals. Some of the film’s most memorable and heavily referenced scenes include the reporters’ encounters with Deepthroat, the anonymous informant often seen emerging from the shadows of empty parking garages.
4. The Conversation (1974)
Inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup and paving the way for landmark films like Blow Out and blockbusters like Enemy of the State, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation revealed the frightening world of government surveillance through the eyes of an increasingly paranoid audio technician. Gene Hackman delivers a career-defining performance as surveillance expert Harry Caul, who loses his grip on reality after closely investigating the contents of an audio recording. Though the film is somewhat ambiguous about the sources of Caul’s paranoia, it introduced audiences to the possibilities of government audio surveillance, an all-too-real phobia in the age of the Patriot Act.
5. Chinatown (1974)
Set in 1930s Los Angeles, Roman Polanski’s neo-noir classic Chinatown exemplifies the gritty, deeply entrenched corruption of a hardboiled detective novel. Even though it regularly tops best films lists for its outstanding performances, complex character development, and stylish film-noir direction, we cannot forget the film’s inherent elements of conspiracy. Sex scandals, real estate fraud, and corrupt city officials abound in this dark tale, which weaves the seedy history of L.A.’s origins into a richly imaginative detective story.
6. Parallax View (1974)
With Parallax View, director Alan J. Pakula (All the President’s Men) delivers yet another film that encapsulates the paranoia and political distrust of the 60s and 70s. A reporter suspects the Parallax Corporation of organizing a recent slew of high-profile assassinations. The startling truth is an amalgam of conspiracy theory staples, complete with corporate corruption, governmental cover-up, and, fresh from The Manchurian Candidate, assassins under mind control.
7. Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
The final installment in the successful Bourne trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum ties up most of the series’ loose ends, revealing the truth behind the secret CIA assassination program responsible for Bourne’s past. Renowned for the gritty action sequences, taut camera work, and fast pacing, the whole franchise seamlessly integrates pure spectacle into the psychological depth of good conspiracy. But it is Bourne’s development that makes the franchise. Matt Damon’s character remains compelling because of his human vulnerability. His mental acumen and physical dexterity are ultimately superseded by the frustrations accompanying his amnesia, solitude, and vagrancy, obstacles that make the film’s revelations all the more satisfying.
8. North by Northwest (1959)
Hitchcock’s unique blend of heart-pounding action sequences and gripping suspense make North by Northwest a formative film in both the conspiracy and action genres. The film is a story of mistaken identity in which an innocent man is chased across the U.S. by an unnamed organization trying to smuggle government secrets out of the country. The sought-after secrets function as a classic MacGuffin, merely inciting the action and suspense that drive the film, and Hitchcock’s themes of identity, deception, and moral relativism directly informed the conspiracy genre.
9. Capricorn One (1978)
Though most conspiracy films focus on governmental corruption, intricately networked societies, and secret assassins, Capricorn One tackles the subject of space-race conspiracies. Inspired by the infamous claims that the first Apollo Moon landing was a hoax, the film tells the story of scientists who stage the first manned mission to Mars and ultimately stop at nothing to preserve the lie. While this B-movie garnered mostly mediocre reviews, it pioneers long-awaited territory in conspiracy films.
10. The Game (1997)
In this David Fincher classic, Michael Douglas plays Nicholas Van Orton, a work-obsessed businessman who receives a mysterious, life-changing gift from his brother: a role-playing game that merges with his real life. When the truth of the purported game unravels and layers of complexity are revealed, the “game” seems to be a deadly conspiracy to usurp Nicholas’s power and property. After narrowly escaping death, surviving a premature burial, and finding himself lost in Mexico, Nicholas attempts suicide, only to be saved by those conspiring against him. It was all just an elaborate game designed to get him out of a rut. The moral of the story? Don’t trust your brother.
11. The Pelican Brief (1993)
As Julia Roberts also proved later on in her career with her Oscar-winning performance in Erin Brokovitch, she knows how to make a solid conspiracy theory movie. In this John Grisham adaptation, Roberts plays a law student who stumbles upon the real reason two Supreme Court Justices were assasinated: greed. Specifically, Roberts writes a brief (can you guess the name of the brief?) which pins the murders on an oil tycoon who took issue with the judges’ environmental policies. Fortunately for Roberts, Denzel Washington was there to help her save the day.