Combustible Celluloid
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With: Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller, Liv Tyler, Michael Gambon, Alan Cumming, Iain Robertson, Ken Stott, Tommy Flanagan, Stephen Walters, James Thornton, Terence Rigby, Christian Camargo
Written by: Robert Wade, Neal Purvis, Charles McKeown, Selwyn Roberts
Directed by: Jake Scott
MPAA Rating: R for some strong violence, sexuality and language
Running Time: 99
Date: 03/19/2013

Plunkett & Macleane (1999)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Gilliam Lite

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Moments of Plunkett and Macleane reminded me of Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989), and it's no wonder. Co-writer Charles McKeown worked on both movies, as well as on Brazil (1985). But, while this movie does have the extraordinary set design of a Gilliam movie, it has none of the imagination. Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle (both in Trainspotting) star as the title characters, who are highwayman bandits in the 18th Century. They form a reluctant partnership, of course. And there's a girl (the lovely Liv Tyler, from Cookie's Fortune), and a bad guy, and lots of shootouts and chases. Part of the trouble is that first-time director Jake Scott, who had previously directed TV commercials, takes this ordinary material and shoots it with a 30-second attention span. He follows the action with shaky-cam, close-ups, and fast cuts so that we can't see what's going on. Plunkett and Macleane does however have an interesting and modern-sounding music score, instead of the usual drippy violins we get with most period pieces. Gary Oldman was an executive producer, and it's easy to see why he didn't see fit to act in this movie himself. All in all though, behind all the breathtaking sets, Plunkett and Macleane is nothing much.

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