Plunkett & Macleane

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Plunkett & Macleane
Plunkett & Macleane.JPG
DVD cover of Plunkett & Macleane
Directed byJake Scott
Produced byTim Bevan
Eric Fellner
Rupert Harvey
Gary Oldman
Written bySelwyn Roberts
Neal Purvis
Robert Wade

Charles McKeown
Music byCraig Armstrong
CinematographyJohn Mathieson
Distributed byUSA Films
Release date
2 April 1999
Running time
93 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
Czech Republic
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.[2]

The story was co-written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.[3] 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.[4]


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 debtor's 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 decides to steal it.[5]

Plunkett ambushes Macleane and forces him to give up the ruby, but when they are discovered by Chance's men, Plunkett swallows it. 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.[4]

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 has gambled away all of their funds.[6]

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.[4] After a tense chase through the city sewers that sees Plunkett exact revenge upon Chance, the three escape to freedom.[7]


Release and reception[edit]

Plunkett & Macleane did not do well in the US box office.[8] The film opened on 1 October 1999 in 475 U.S. theaters, taking in US$244,765 during its first three days; total US earnings stand at US$474,900.[9]

The film received mainly negative reviews from critics, Rotten Tomatoes lists a 24% critic rating; however, it fared significantly better among audiences, with an average score of 67%,[10] while Metacritic's Metascore is 44 (indicating "mixed or average reviews").[11]

Derek Elley of Variety wrote, "[T]he script and dialogue are nowhere near well-tooled enough, and the film’s generally dark, cold look and baroque design play against the lighter touch required. Though he certainly puts the reported $15 million budget up on the screen, helmer Jake Scott (son of Ridley Scott) seems happiest when pushing ahead to his next montage sequence, each of which has the brio that should have informed the whole movie.

Carlyle, with a convincing cockney accent, and Lee Miller, as the rumpled pretender, are strong, with considerable chemistry between them. Though she’s clearly spent time on her English vowels, Tyler is only adequate as Rebecca, a well-bred young lady who’s intrigued by Macleane’s derring-do. Making the biggest impression, in smaller roles, are Stott as the P&M’s vicious nemesis and Cumming as the wildly camp Rochester, who manages to give even the so-so dialogue a classy touch."[12]

Despite being panned by the critics, it was acclaimed by worldwide audiences and has gained a cult following.[8][13] Metacritic's user score is 8.4 (indicating "Universal Acclaim").[14]


  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. ^ "Plunkett & Macleane". Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  3. ^ Miller, Jonny Lee; Robertson, Iain; Carlyle, Robert; Stott, Ken (1999-04-02), Plunkett & Macleane, retrieved 2017-05-18
  4. ^ a b c Tunzelmann, Alex von (2012-01-05). "Plunkett & Macleane holds up history by trying to be Trainspotting". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  5. ^ Holden, Stephen. "FILM REVIEW; Taking From the Rich And Giving to Themselves". Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  6. ^ Elley, Derek (1999-04-05). "Plunkett & Macleane". Variety. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  7. ^ Institute, The British Film. "BFI | Sight & Sound | Plunkett & Macleane (1999)". Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  8. ^ a b "A ★★★½ review of Plunkett & MacLeane (1999)". Retrieved 2017-05-18.
  9. ^ "Box office information for Plunkett & Macleane". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
  10. ^ "Reviews for Plunkett & Macleane". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Reviews for Plunkett & Macleane". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
  12. ^ Elley, Derek (1999-04-05). "Plunkett & Macleane". Variety. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  13. ^ Post, Irish. "Ireland's Gentleman Highwayman: Seven facts about the Irish outlaw of London hanged for his courteous crimes | The Irish Post". The Irish Post. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  14. ^ Plunkett & Macleane, retrieved 2017-05-18

External links[edit]