I loved the movie! I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.
To me it showed more of the human side of the assassination than any book that I have read. It didn’t just focus on John Wilkes Booth and the race to find him. It didn’t focus on making him the only traitor in the story. It focused on the other individuals who chose to work with him and his plot to kill President Lincoln.
It was very interesting to see the way Mary Surratt was portrayed. Not as the boarding house owner that knowingly housed Booth and the others prior to the assassination attempts, but as a woman who was completely in the dark about what was happening under her own roof and with her own son (who by the way, got away with being a member of the group and let his mother hang in his stead).
To me the beginning of the movie was very gripping, I mean really, when you lead off with the assassination, it is hard to top that. The end was just as gripping, with the public hanging and then the reappearance of John Surratt.
The hanging was difficult to watch, but I think Redford missed some of the historical parts associated with the hanging. In the movie, all of the conspirators seem to die instantly, like you are supposed to when you are hung. That is not quite what happened. One of the conspirators kicked and moved until the hood covering his face was thrown off.
I understand why Redford or the studio waited to release it on the date they did (the 146th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, but for the actors involved, I think it ruined their chances of getting recognition for their efforts in bringing these characters to life.