No one will be neutral about Plunkett & Macleane. Either you go with its notion of cheeky, stylish fun or you want to grab first-time director Jake Scott by the ear and slap him silly. Your inclination may depend on ... more »whether you recall his dad Ridley's own directing debut, The Duellists (1977), and savor the correspondences. Dad took a Joseph Conrad tale of the Napoleonic Wars, cast it with the ultra-contemporary Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel, and filmed it with a swoopingly mobile camera. Son Jake has made a feisty period piece about a pair of thieves (Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller) in 1748 London and filled it with blatant anachronisms. A decadent aristo (Alan Cumming), asked whether he "still swings both ways," replies, "I swing every way!" A ballroom full of revelers dances the minuet (or is it the gavotte?) while our ears--if not theirs--are filled with a rock ballad. And so forth. Is this sophomoric? Maybe. But it's also often fresh and inventive. Why shouldn't a filmmaker be allowed to speak directly to a contemporary consciousness, even flaunt it, as long as he also delivers startling imagery and convincing period detail? The solid cast includes Michael Gambon as a corrupt magistrate, Ken Stott as a very nasty enforcer named Mr. Chance (who favors a thumb through the eye socket and into the brain as a mode of execution), and Terence Rigby as a philosophical jailer; even Liv Tyler looks more interesting than usual. Plunkett & Macleane is in the end pretty frivolous, but it's a lively debut nonetheless. --Richard T. Jameson« less
18th C meets 20th C meets Alan Cummings in make up?
John Harrison | England, York University | 03/14/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Starting in a dingy English drunk pen, you may easily mistake this for an every day, run-of-the mill medieval type yarn. However you'd be very much mistaken. 18th century scenery give way to 20th century language (Hence the 15 certificate). A fast paced plot bring together Plunkett (Carlyle) an ex-apothecarist and violent type, with Macleane, a pauper who desperately wants to be a gentleman. Together they create a crime wave, 'robbing from the rich and that's it' An all round gem of a film, with several notable stand alone scenes, foremost of which is the dance scene. Incredible outfits in a beautiful 18th century ballroom to the sounds of drum, bass and keyboard. Truly a unique turn on what could easily have been another tired old ball. All actors put on sterling performances both the 'good guys' and the 'baddies'. Great script, superb costumes, a marvellous film."
Ye Olde Trainspotters
D. Hartley | Seattle, WA USA | 04/25/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The only time you'll see tracks on anyone's arms here is when they are unceremoniously run over by a mid-18th century horse cart. First time director Jake Scott (read: Kelly Lynch, Sofia Coppola) borrows the keys to the studio and produces a fairly rollicking debut with "Plunkett & MacLeane". Robert Carlyle and Jonny Lee Miller take thier "Trainspotting" schtick to 1750's England as a pair of rogueish and rascally highwaymen, stealing valuables from silly foppish aristocrats. Miller finds time along the way to fall head over heels (who wouldn't?) for lucious Liv Tyler, as the daughter of a bigwig Chief Justice. That's about as complicated as the cartoonish plot gets, but Scott directs with infectious energy and a bit of a wink at the audience, so you may find yourself entertained in spite of a rather thin narrative. If you are the scholarly type who likes to nitpick at historical inaccuracies-you'd best steer clear of this one...if the 18th century characters spouting Tarantino style dialogue doesn't make you crazy, the incongruous music soundtrack is sure to put you over the edge (no harpsichords or minuets were harmed in the making of this film). An honorable mention goes to the ever engaging Alan Cumming,sporting a spooky physical resemblance to Pee Wee Herman and attacking his role as a decadent dandy with much aplomb."
Sometimes Silly Is What You Want!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"PLUNKETT & MACLEANE has a purpose: entertainment. And during a season of rush and deadlines this little film provides enough anachronistic pleasures to fill a relaxing evening.
The story is simple: two social polar opposites with reasons for distaste for society join forces to rob the rich. And all the rest is fantasy and period tongue in cheek humor. Jonny Lee Miller is the cleaner of the two and Robert Carlyle the scruffy intuitive thief. The two fall under different influences piloted by such fine actors as Liv Tyler, Alan Cumming, and Michael Gambon.
This is high rolling farce with a silly but fun musical score and wonderful period costumes and mannerisms. It is not deep, it is not particularly good, but it IS entertaining. This kind of fluff leaves you whistling with a smile. Grady Harp, December 05"
Stand and deliver tale comes to life
Kim | midwest US | 04/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For those of us looking for a different kind of adventure, Plunkett & Macleane fits the bill. I wasn't sure what to expect beyond the known premise of this being the story of notorious 18th century English highwaymen. What I discovered in my first viewing was not only the talents of the cast, but a visual feast as well. Updated with modern "slang", an uptempo soundtrack (that cleverly mixes the relevant classical fare with modern electronics), and authentic looking costumes and scenery, this one swept me away to another time and place. Robert Carlyle and Jonny Lee Miller make a great team (again, as in "Trainspotting") as the title characters, and display versatility in each of their roles....from the funny moments weaved throughout, to the dire consequences of their characters' actions, and finally to the loyalty of friendship. Liv Tyler, who's role as Lady Rebecca is not as dimensional as the leads, pulls it off well enough. All in all, I was pleased with this film, even with any minor flaws it contains (all being more in form with the sometimes uneven pace of the story, rather than the acting itself). Stereotypes do abound (esp. the artistocrats)in this movie, as do some gruesome violence, which could have both perhaps been a little less exaggerated. But, who's perfect? Finally, though Plunkett & Macleane is not the type of film everyone will enjoy, those of us with a taste for scoundrels' adventures long ago will find it generally satisfying."
A Real Sleeper
Kim | 03/13/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sophomoric, in my mind, means manipulative - visually, verbally, and through the pacing and continuity. This movie is not sophomoric.This has to be one of the most maturely realised and under-recognised films in recent film history. To whatever extent there is a modernism in the styling of the characters, there is also a remarkable restraint and authenticity in portraying the psychological tone of the time - in every social class and role, and the subtleties as well as the vulgarities of the social interactions. Read up on the period. This was SPOT ON. Affected Dandies did exist. The f**k word was absolutely in common usage. This film may be a lot more accurate than us moderns may want to admit. The cinematography is consistently superb. The acting and character development almost exceptional. Lighting, continuity... all first rate."