Friends Will (Vincent Friell) and Ronnie (Joe Mullaney) are two young lads living on a housing estate in Edinburgh in 80's Britain. Will, with his wart-infected fingers, is fed up with his job sweeping up rubbish in the park and Ronnie is fed up with his job working in a joke shop, which sees him freqently getting beaten up by angry mothers after selling joke products to their offspring. Will's father played by Bernard Hill, tells him he is lucky to have a job, however, after getting over his pangs of guilt about embarking on a life of crime with Ronnie, the two friends set off on Ronnie's bike and begin holding up buses full of American tourists in the Scottish Highlands.
Donning clown and wolfman masks from the joke shop and armed with their 'weapon' - a puffer gun, also from the joke shop which shoots out curry powder, athlete's foot powder and sneezing powder - Will and Ronnie end up becoming a hit with the tourists as they hold up their buses and thank them in a very polite manner, for handing over their cash and valuables. However, the two lads quickly come to realise that they cannot spend the money without raising suspicion and so begin distributing their riches to the locals, whilst in the process becoming a bigger tourist attraction than the Loch Ness monster, as they ride through the streets of Wester Hailes throwing handfuls of money from a bag. Such is their popularity, tourists are booking tickets for Highland bus tours, asking if this is the bus that will be held up and Japanese film crews chase them through the highlands. Meanwhile, the police are closing in on catching them, assisted by a CIA agent, played by Ned Beatty, who is also on holiday in Scotland. Is the end near for the clown and the wolfman? As Will and Ronnie realise it has all become too big for them, they decide on one last mission.
Restless Natives is a funny, heart-warming film relevant to the times we lived in back in the mid-80's. Of course it isn't right to tackle the problem of unemployment by turning to highway robbery, but you find yourself backing the two lads in their quest here, warming to them in the same way the bus loads of American tourists do. It is a romantic view of crime, where fantasy and escapism come to the fore. You will be in awe, as I never fail to be, at the amazing Scottish highland scenery on display here as we follow the two lads around Glencoe on their motorbike. From misty, atmospheric and haunting scenes, to the breathtakingingly beautiful, all set to the rousing soundtrack by my favourite band Big Country, which features throughout the film. Apart from the highland scenery, there is also a great scene as the lads ride around the centre of Edinburgh with the castle in the background for their final fling, as the locals hail their highwayman heroes. I may be biased because of my love for Scottish band Big Country, but really I don't think I am, as people who have watched this film with no previous knowledge of the musical talents of the late Stuart Adamson and his band Big Country, have been mesmerised by the soundtrack which fits so well and is a big part of the appeal of this film. Restless Natives has an appealing charm, not just by getting the viewer rooting for the underdog, but also by using inexperienced actors in the lead roles, it exudes a natural credibility. Mel Smith and Nanette Newman also feature in cameo roles, but it is Friell and Mullaney's innocent portrayals that make this film.
The release of this film on DVD made a lot of people happy. Myself included.