I stumbled across this little gem of a movie on Netflix recently. Actually, it was a while ago, but I didn’t actually sit down to watch it until yesterday. Figure a few slices of pizza, a drink, and some period action-movie fun was in order after my hockey game.
Plunkett & Macleane takes place in England, 1748. It follows Captain James Macleane (played by Jonny Lee Miller) and thief & highwayman Will Plunkett (played by Robert Carlyle). The characters are loosely based on historical figures by the same name, though I’m going to assume their real story is much different than the movie. Plunkett finds Macleane digging up the grave of Plunkett’s former partner because he swallowed a sizable ruby. Alas, Plunkett & Macleane are caught by the Thief Taker General Chance and are sent to jail.
They don’t last long in there. Before being arrested, Plunkett swallowed the rub that was just caught out from his deceased partner’s bowels (mmm… yummy!) and passes it while in the jail to buy their freedom. And yes, there’s a scene where Plunkett tries to crap out the ruby.
Captain Macleane is part of the gentry class, but is dressed in rags almost as filthy and worn as Plunkett’s. After their release, Plunkett proposes the idea of Macleane becoming his new partner. Between Plunkett’s skill as a highwayman and Macleane’s social status and refinery they could make a fortune. Macleane is a bit reluctant at first, but Plunkett points out how the rest of the gentry laugh at him, and thus a new partnership is born. After buying some new clothes, a nice place to live and such (from Plunkett’s life savings), they’re able to mix with the rich gentry of England, and Macleane soon begins to call himself the “Gentleman Highwayman.”
They rob, steal, and hold up coaches to gain their fortune, and Macleane begins to. Alas, a wrinkle hits their plan when Macleane falls in love with the beautiful, intelligent and “choosy” Lady Rebecca Gibson (played by Liv Tyler), and the duo soon find themselves in over their head with the law. General Chance is now hot on their heels…
Overall I really enjoyed this movie. It far exceeded my expectations. The pacing and storytelling is well done. The casting is great. There’s more flintlock pistols being fired in this movie than I can remember in any other.
The movie also steals a page from A Knight’s Tale with it’s soundtrack. Although Plunkett & Macleane doesn’t use modern rock songs and stuffs it into a period film, it does use electrical guitars and other modern-sounding instruments during a few scenes. It’s not bad by any means, but it did take me out of the story for a second.
The movie poster will also have you think Liv Tyler’s character is more action-oriented. She’s really not. Lady Rebecca Gibson is very much your English lady in her fine dresses, though she does have a scene where she fires a pistol during some target practice. That’s pretty much the extent of her action-role in the movie. Otherwise, her character is a catalyst for things to go horribly wrong for Plunkett and Macleane.
There’s also Alan Cumming who plays the fabulous and flamboyant Lord Rochester. He knows everyone, and unknowingly gives Plunkett and Macleane their marks during the film. The first time we run into Lord Rochester he’s wearing a purple Mad Hatter like hat, and a pink & purple ensemble. He’s a fun character and Cumming shines in the role. Pretty sure he redefined the words fabulous and flamboyant with his costumes in this film. It’s amazing and I love it.
So all-in-all this was a great movie. It’s action packed and if you love great costumes, black powder gun fights, and some period action fun, Plunkett & Macleane is for you.