No-one will be neutral about Plunkett and 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 whether you recall his dad Ridley's own directing debut, The Duellists
(1977), and savour 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 swooping, 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 revellers dances the minuet (or is it the gavotte?) while our ears--if not theirs--are filled with a trance 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 favours 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. In the end pretty frivolous, Plunkett and Macleane is nonetheless a lively debut. --Richard T Jameson, Amazon.com
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2.4 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), German ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), Dutch ( Subtitles ), English ( Subtitles ), German ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.78:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: Set in the 18th Century, Plunkett and Macleane is the story of two notorious highwaymen based on real life characters. With Plunkett's (Robert Carlyle) brains and know-how and Macleane's (Johnny Lee Miller) social connections, they infiltrate wealthy society. After robbing the rich they line their pockets - for Plunkett to fulfill his dream and travel to America and for Macleane, to sustain his high cost of living. They hold up the coach of the Lord Chief Justice Gibson (Michael Gambon), Macleane falls in love with his beautiful and rebellious niece, Lady Rebecca Gibson (Liv Tyler). His charming manner quickly earns him the name "The Gentleman Highwayman". Gibson's second-in-command, Thief taker general Chance (Ken Scott) also pursues Rebecca's intentions in vain, but it is his relentless pursuit of the "Gentleman Highwayman" that edges Plunkett and Macleane nearer to capture and possible execution at the famous Tyburn tree, the partners' daring and loyalty are pushed to the limit... ...Plunkett & Macleane (UK)