Plunkett & Macleane
*** GM
Starring: Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Liv Tyler, Ken Scott


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Sometimes, having no twist can be the twist.

When you go see a flick set in the 1700s, you're generally expecting something driving towards the 'artsy' realm. It can be good, powerful, stirring and moving, but it's supposed to be highbrow, intellectual and somewhat stuffy. Who'da thunk to make it a slam-bang action movie?

That's essentially what Plunkett & Macleane is - a fun, exciting adventure flick. Captain James Macleane (Jonny Lee Miller) is a wannabe gentleman that spends a lot of time drunk and disorderly, running afoul of the constabulary (I don't think this word was in the film, but I just wanted to say 'constabulary'). When Will Plunkett (Robert Carlyle)'s jewel heist stumbles upon his cell and results in the murder of Plunkett's partner by General Chance (Ken Stott), the two come together to start a new criminal enterprise - Macleane poses as a gentleman to discover who's worth robbing, and the two of them hold them up and rob them blind. Macleane's graciousness during the robbery earns him the public moniker of the "Gentleman Highwayman" - and he relishes that notoriety.

I kept expecting an artsy turn, doubting that things would play out as I predicted them, but they did... last minute saves, decent wisecracks, and the obligatory love interest (Liv Tyler) fed up with snooty rich types and thirsting for a ruggedly good-looking rogue... even down to the "Batman Forever" ending. Somehow, though, it all worked and turned out to be a lot of fun.

Carlyle's a great haggard rogue, dreaming of a life in America simply because 'it's no place for a gentleman.' Miller is also dashing and smooth as the criminal with more of a taste for posing as an aristocrat than for the actual crime. I usually don't like Liv much, but the rest of the movie was so enjoyable that I was able to accept her as a part of the whole package. Stott is also appropriately imposing as Chance, and Alan Cumming, who had a standout scene in "Eyes Wide Shut," is equally funny in his role as the foppish Lord Rochester, old friend of Macleane.

The anachronistic soundtrack really helped move the story along, and it all came together to form an entertaining and involving film. Clichés, yes... but if you're not expecting them, can they still be clichés?

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