Rob Roy

Honor made him a man. Courage made him a hero. History made him a legend.

Adventure History Drama
139 min     6.733     1995     United Kingdom


In the highlands of Scotland in the 1700s, Rob Roy tries to lead his small town to a better future, by borrowing money from the local nobility to buy cattle to herd to market. When the money is stolen, Rob is forced into a Robin Hood lifestyle to defend his family and honour.


John Chard wrote:
Do not think that all sins go unpunished in this life, Montrose. Rob Roy is directed by Michael Caton-Jones and written by Alan Sharp. It stars Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, John Hurt, Tim Roth, Eric Stoltz, Andrew Keir and Brian Cox. Music is by Carter Burwell and cinematography by Karl Walter Lindenlaub. Neeson is Rob Roy MacGregor, an 18th Century Scottish historical figure who borrows £1,000 from the Marquis of Montrose (Hurt) with the plan to improve his clan's way of life. But the money is stolen in transit by the dastardly Archibald Cunnigham (Roth), so unable to repay the loan, Roy is forced to live as an outlaw. From such seeds are legends born. Beautifully shot on location in parts of the Scottish Highlands, Rob Roy somewhat got lost in the slip stream of Mel Gibson's Braveheart. A shame, for although not as epic or as rousing as Gibson's Oscar grabber, Caton-Jones' film is a different and more reflective type of historical piece. Thematically the film is a play on virtues, in fact it's a trumpet playing fanfare for such. Honesty, honour, loyalty, fidelity and love nestle in nicely with the wonderful landscapes, born out by Sharp's intelligent script. But that's not to say that the director hasn't got the requisite thrust of stirring adventure within, he has, and Rob Roy rewards in that department as well. The films crowning glory is a climatic sword fight, no tricks or hard to believe heroics, just an expertly shot long sequence that's choreographed sublimely by William Hobbs and Robert G. Goodwin. While Carter Burwell's score sits nice with the visual treats - even if the Gaelic strains within the orchestration sound more Irish than Scottish... Cast work well. Although Neeson looks the part as the robust Roy, there's no need for being dashing here, character calls for strength of mind and body, as well as emotional fortitude with the love of his family, and thus Neeson plays it with ease. Lange, an interesting casting choice as the missus, shorn of make up, yet still naturally sexy, she gives Mary MacGregor believable strength. However, it's undeniably Tim Roth's movie, part effeminate fop, part calculating bastard, his villainous turn as Archibald Cunningham has to be seen to be believed. He was rightly nominated for an Academy Award for his efforts. The rest impact well, Cox and Hurt, great pros as always, and Stoltz too isn't found wanting. There's some iffy accents at times, so what's new there? And if I'm to be churlish, then it often feels wrong in period. Yet they are small complaints in what is otherwise a smart and lovely splinter from the swashbuckling tree. 8/10
Wuchak wrote:
_**Featuring One of Cinema's Greatest Villains -- EVER**_ "Rob Roy" came out in 1995 with a couple other heroic swordplay films: "Braveheart" and "First Knight." I prefer "Rob Roy" to "Braveheart," even though the two films shouldn't really be compared since "Rob Roy" focuses on the conflict of individuals in Old Scotland and "Braveheart" focuses more on whole armies battling. The location cinematography of the Scottish Highlands is breathtaking (and superior to "Braveheart"). Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange are fine in the roles of Rob Roy and his wife. The sword-fighting (between individuals) ranks with the best in cinematic history. The film also possesses a very realistic vibe -- no anachronisms or campy humor here; the pic really helps one realize what life was like in rural Scotland 300 years ago. What works best, to my mind, is Tim Roth's exceptional performance as Rob Roy's foppish-but-deadly nemesis. This is a villain you love to loathe. The Roth character is so foppish that he appears somewhat effeminate; but this is merely disguise as he's actually a ruthless master swordsman. Surely this is one of film's top villains ever (It doesn't sound right to say "good villain," does it?). On the downside, the story doesn't have a lot of drive from beginning to end unlike, say, "Last of the Mohicans." Your attention may wander at points. Of course this may not be an entirely bad thing in light of the schizophrenic editing of many films post-"Armageddon" (1998). In other words, the leisurely pace can be refreshing. There are aspects not appropriate for children: Sexual brutality (a rape scene) and vulgarity (a man shoves his fingers up a woman's nightgown); as well as blatant love-making. There are also overt scenes of, believe it or not, urination; many may regard this as needless, but (for me) it helped drive home the point of what everyday life was like back then, e.g. Where do you pee if you're living in a shack out in the hills? Or, in the middle of the night, if there's no upstairs bathroom? The story's lack of drive prevents "Rob Roy" from attaining true greatness in my mind, but the positive aspects noted above certainly achieve greatness and there are several memorable scenes. The film runs 2 hours, 19 minutes, and was shot entirely in Scotland. GRADE: B+
CinemaSerf wrote:
As a Scot, I tend to look upon the Hollywood treatment of our national history with considerable disdain at the best of times - this is not a film that encourages me to change that philosophy. The general heather and whisky sentiment; the unsophisticated but honourable Scots versus the evil, occupying English is all way to simplistic to be anything more than a romantic adventure drama along the lines of the "Master of Ballantrae". Sure, it's grittier than that - the language more course/authentic (take your pick) but both John Hurt as the turncoat Marquis of Montrose and Tim Roth (who perhaps thinks this is a "Three Musketeers" romp?) camp it up to the point where you wouldn't have put much money on them escaping from a Parisian brothel unscathed; much less raping, pillaging and ruthlessly scheming to supplant Scottish traditions in favour of their new Hanoverian masters. Eric Stolz and Brian Cox's casting is just bizarre! Andrew Keir, wooden as ever, makes some effort as the Duke of Argyll - another supporter of King George. It has the benefits of some stunning scenery and a cracking score from Carter Burwell, but otherwise it is a mediocre costume drama with a cursory nod to a great Scottish hero.