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Plunkett and MacLeane

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 03/17/99 04:01:45

"A valiant, if misguided effort. Armageddon in the 18th century."
3 stars (Average)

Mixing an 18th century period piece about highwaymen with techno music and Armageddon-like plot devices might seem to be an odd directorial choice. It is. But somehow it works.

Robert Carlyle (Begbie of Trainspotting and your next Bond villain, you heard it here first) is Plunkett, a thief and a thug. Fortune finds him jailed with a fallen aristocrat, MacLeane (Jonny Lee Miller of Hackers and Trainpsotting fame) who turns out to be an ideal source of information for a criminal looking for rich and slow moving victims. The two join forces and become known as The Gentlemen Highwaymen - famous across the land and hunted by the law.

But, as is always the case, romance busts up a good working relationship. Liv Tyler, showing all the emotional inadequacy of her previous Armageddon outing, reprises the exact same character out of that movie (with the exception of her clothing and year) and she does a fair impression of a model trying to act. Liv's pretty and all, but she's no Meg Ryan. Romantic outings just aren't her thing.

Plunkett and MacLeane is a fun movie, make no mistake. It has its' fair share of action and humour, but there's something rather important missing from the mix.

Either this film was meant to be a romantic comedy, a thriller, a period piece or a techno dance soundtrack vehicle, but mixing all four at once is a stretch.

If there's only two major sticking points, they would be the music and the pacing. The music is extremely out of place. It's plain they were just trying to spice things up and make the film easier to relate to, but it just doesn't work at all.

The pacing is a major problem. It seems the director has tried to cover far too large a timeframe, and as such skips through events like they mean nothing. Characters are given scant chance to develop, backgrounds are summarised and bam, they're off to rob someone anew.

Basically this film can't make up it's mind whether it wants to charge ahead or stop hard, and all too often tries both at once. The action is fine, we're not talking Jackie Chan but it plugs along more often than not at a good tilt, but then things go into fast forward mode and months have passed by without even realising it.

Wanted to love this movie a lot, the cast (with the exception of Tyler) is one of great respect, but there just isn't enough mustard for this hot dog to be considered gourmet. I dare say that nobody will be rating the film a five star gig, though nobody is likely to crap all over it either.

The harshest critics will have a field day and poke this film full of holes, but most people will give Plunkett and MacLeane grudging acceptance as a decent, if not fantastic, period rom-com flick.

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