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. 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.


In 1748, England is infested with highwaymen, such as Will Plunkett, a London-based criminal working with his partner Rob. However, very soon into the film Rob is killed by Thief Taker General Chance, and Plunkett finds himself on the run from the local constabulary.

This incident was witnessed by Captain James Macleane, who was being taken to a debtor's prison. He also sees Plunkett's partner swallow a ruby, which he sees as his ticket out of debt, and, after narrowly escaping discovery by Chance, he goes to the cemetery and tries to exhume the body and retrieve the ruby.

Unknown to him, Plunkett is also waiting there, and he forces Macleane to give the ruby to him. He then also swallows it, as they are both found by Chance's men. They go together to Newgate Prison, and Plunkett realises that, because of Macleane's social rank (he is a member of the gentry class), he can give the ruby to Macleane and he can use his influence to buy them both out of prison. This, despite protests from Macleane, starts a partnership which could be very successful, where they use Macleane's title to get to know the rich, and Plunkett's brains and planning to rob them later on. However, this all goes haywire when Macleane falls for the beautiful Lady Rebecca and lets their secret slip.

Eventually, Plunkett's plans to escape the country to America are spoiled by Macleane's uncontrollable spending, and Plunkett leaves him to the gallows. However, Plunkett comes back at the very last minute to save his friend, and all three leave for America. At the very end Plunkett gets his own back on Chance as he shoots him in the head in the sewer, avenging Rob's death.


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.[2]

The film received negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes lists a 26% rating (with an average score of 4.7/10),[3] while Metacritic's metascore is 44 (indicating "mixed or average reviews").[4]

Despite being panned by the critics, it was acclaimed by worldwide audiences and has gained a very strong cult following. Metacritic user review has scored about 9.0 ("Universal Acclaim").


  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. ^ "Box office information for Plunkett & Macleane". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  3. ^ "Reviews for Plunkett & Macleane". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "Reviews for Plunkett & Macleane". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 

External links[edit]