Plunkett & Macleane

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Plunkett & Macleane
Plunkett & Macleane.JPG
DVD cover of Plunkett & Macleane
Directed by Jake Scott
Produced by Tim Bevan
Eric Fellner
Rupert Harvey
Gary Oldman
Written by Selwyn Roberts
Neal Purvis
Robert Wade

Charles McKeown
Music by Craig Armstrong
Cinematography John Mathieson
Distributed by USA Films
Release date
2 April 1999
Running time
93 min.
Country United Kingdom
Czech Republic
Language English
Budget £8,490,000[1]
Box office £2,757,485[1]

Plunkett & Macleane is a 1999 British historical action comedy film directed by Jake Scott, and starring Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller and Liv Tyler.

The story was co-written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.[2] It follows the story of Captain James Macleane (Miller) and Will Plunkett (Carlyle), two men in eighteenth century Britain who are both struggling to survive. The characters are loosely based on two genuine highwaymen of the eighteenth century, James MacLaine and William Plunkett although the story bears little relation to their actual lives.


1748 England is infested with highwaymen — men such as Will Plunkett, a London-based criminal working with his partner Rob. When Rob is killed by Thief Taker General Chance after a botched heist outside debtors prison, Plunkett must find a way to retrieve a large ruby that his partner had swallowed What he doesn't know is that the incident was witnessed by James Macleane, a socialite from the upper echelons of society, who had found himself in debtor's prison. Macleane sees this ruby as his ticket out of debt, and after narrowly escaping discovery by Chance, he decides to exhume Rob's body.

Plunkett is waiting at the cemetery and forces Macleane to give the ruby to him. When they are both found by Chance's men, Plunkett swallows the ruby himself. While in Newgate Prison, the two form a partnership that utilizes Plunkett's criminal know-how and Macleane's social status to bribe their way out of prison. This tentative partnership leads to an unlikely alliance, deemed "The Gentlemen Highwaymen", where they gladly relieve the gentry of their possessions.

When Macleane falls for the beautiful Lady Rebecca, the niece of the powerful Lord Gibson, their plans to escape to America go awry. The pair part ways after a disastrous attempt to rescue Lady Rebecca from forced exodus, which leads to the death of Lord Gibson, and the discovery that Macleane's has gambled away all of their funds.

Macleane is eventually captured and tried for Lord Gibson's murder, earning him a date with the gallows. Plunkett orchestrates a daring escape, aided by Lady Rebecca and the flamboyant Lord Rochester. After a tense chase through the city sewers that sees Plunkett exact revenge upon Thief taker Chance, the three escape to freedom.


Release and reception[edit]

Plunkett & Macleane was a flop at the box office. The film opened on 1 October 1999 in 475 U.S. theaters, taking in US$244,765 during its first three days; total domestic earnings stand at US$474,900.[3]

The film received negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes lists a 26% rating (with an average score of 4.7/10),[4] while Metacritic's Metascore is 44 (indicating "mixed or average reviews").[5]

Despite being panned by the critics, it was acclaimed by worldwide audiences and has gained a cult following.[6] Metacritic's user score is 8.4 (indicating "Universal Acclaim").[7]


  1. ^ a b Alexander Walker, Icons in the Fire: The Rise and Fall of Practically Everyone in the British Film Industry 1984-2000, Orion Books, 2005 p273
  2. ^ Miller, Jonny Lee; Robertson, Iain; Carlyle, Robert; Stott, Ken (1999-04-02), Plunkett & Macleane, retrieved 2017-05-18 
  3. ^ "Box office information for Plunkett & Macleane". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "Reviews for Plunkett & Macleane". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "Reviews for Plunkett & Macleane". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  6. ^ "A ★★★½ review of Plunkett & MacLeane (1999)". Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  7. ^ Plunkett & Macleane, retrieved 2017-05-18 

External links[edit]