Conspiracy Theory is a 1997 American political action thriller film directed by Richard Donner. The original screenplay by Brian Helgeland centres on an eccentric taxi driver (Mel Gibson) who believes many world events are triggered by government conspiracies, and the Justice Department attorney (Julia Roberts) who becomes involved in his life. The film was a financial success, but critical reviews were mixed.
Conspiracy-theorist and New York City taxi driver Jerry Fletcher continually expounds his ideas to Alice Sutton, a lawyer at the Justice Department. She humours him because he once saved her from a mugging, but is unaware he spies on her at her home. Her own work is to solve the mystery of her father (Bert Remsen)’s murder. Seeing suspicious activity everywhere, Jerry identifies some men as CIA workers, follows them into a building, and is captured. The interrogator injects a wheelchair-using Jerry with LSD and questions him using torture. Jerry experiences terrifying hallucinations and flashbacks, panics, and manages to escape by incapacitating the interrogator by biting his nose and kicking him.
In his 2003 book A Culture of Conspiracy, political scientist Michael Barkun notes that a vast popular audience has been introduced by the film to the notion that the U.S. government is controlled by a deep state whose secret agents use black helicopters.