Plunkett & Macleane

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Details At A Glance

Category Black Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1 non-16x9, DD 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time
97:08 minutes
(not 101 minutes as stated on packaging)
Other Extras Featurette-Cast & Crew Interviews (6:03)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes (4:14)
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection,
then Menu
Region 2,4 Director Jake Scott

Starring Robert Carlyle
Jonny Lee Miller
Liv Tyler
Ken Stott
Alan Cumming
Michael Gambon
Case Super Jewel
RRP $34.95 Music Craig Armstrong

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    The Brits have a habit of producing quirky black comedies; Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Trainspotting and Notting Hill spring to mind as examples of this genre. Plunkett & Macleane is another such black comedy, based loosely on the life of James Maclaine, the "Gentleman Highwayman", who robbed his victims with style and panache.

    Jonny Lee Miller is Macleane, a man who has a habit of living beyond his means. Subsequently, he keeps getting thrown into prison because of his inability to meet his debts. Robert Carlyle is Plunkett, an apothecary turned bad. They team up, Plunkett supplying the wherewithal and Macleane supplying the contacts, and form a formidable outlaw combination.

    Complications ensue when Macleane falls in love with Lady Rebecca (Liv Tyler), the niece of the Lord Chief Justice (Michael Gambon). Also vying for the Lady Rebecca's attentions is Thief Taker General Chance (Ken Scott) who despite his respectable position is an extremely nasty piece of work. Chance desperately wants to catch Plunkett & Macleane.

    A very unusual mix of styles is on show during this movie; the setting is 18th Century England, but the dialogue and the musical accompaniment is firmly rooted in the 20th Century. Oddly, it works rather well, even in scenes where traditional court dancing is set to what can only be described as pumping 1990s techno music.

Transfer Quality


    This transfer is variable in its quality, and I cannot help but think that it would have been better to compress this transfer onto a dual layer disc.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is variably sharp and clear. The great majority of the transfer is crystal clear and razor sharp, but significant portions of the transfer lose some definition, particularly in scenes where smoke is used in shot for effect. Grain intrudes at time, particularly during the opening titles. Shadow detail is generally good, except when the cinematography deliberately omits shadow detail, though I did feel that this aspect of the transfer could have been better. There is no low level noise.

    The colours were unusually rendered, with a very muted and drab appearance. A few scenes were shot more naturally, and these scenes are vibrant and colourful. Purples in particular stand out brightly.

    Some MPEG artefacts were seen during the opening titles and in darker smoke-filled scenes, where there was pixelization of the background and subsequent loss of fine detail. This tended to occur during some motion shots as well. There were no film-to-video artefacts seen, nor were there any notable film artefacts.


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD - English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand. Very occasionally, some of the dialogue peaks were slightly distorted.

    There were no audio sync problems.

    The score by Craig Armstrong is a pumping, techno-style soundtrack, quite incongruous in the period setting of the movie, but nonetheless amazingly effective and appropriate.

     The surround channels were nicely used for ambience and special effects, providing a surprisingly enveloping soundfield for a basically non-action movie.

    The .1 channel was used strongly to support the movie, almost, but not quite, to the point of excess at times.


Menu - 16x9 Enhanced


    This contains detailed cast biographies and production notes. They are excellent, and well worth the reading time.

Featurette - Cast & Crew Interviews

    There are some minor insights to be had from this extra, but nothing particular notable.

Featurette - Behind The Scenes

R4 vs R1

    This title does not appear to be available in Region 1 at this time.
[Addendum: 12th September 2000 - This DVD now appears to be available in R1, similarly specified to the R4 version. There is no compelling reason to prefer either version.]


    Plunkett and Macleane is a great movie on a DVD that could have been better.

    The video quality is generally good, but fails to impress during scenes which strain the compression process.

    The audio quality is relatively good.

    The extras are passable, but not great.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
8th December 1999
Amended 12th September 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer