Rob Roy (1995)

Robert Roy MacGregor (aka Rob Roy, Liam Neeson) decides that he wants to expand his own cattle herd and borrows 1000 pounds from the Marquis of Montrose (John Hurt). In the process, the 1000 pounds gets stolen by Archibald Cunningham (Tim Roth) and Rob Roy is framed for it. It is up to Rob Roy to reclaim his honor, but what will he lose in the process?

Rob Roy is a hysterical historical epic much in the same vain as Braveheart (1995) and The Patriot (2000), only mysteriously 100% free of Mel Gibson. As you may expect, the movie depicted the characters like this: the Scottish are good, the English are bad.

That doesn’t even begin to describe how one-dimensional all the characters were in the movie, particularly Liam Neeson’s and Tim Roth’s. You know Liam Neeson blindly chases down justice and defends his honor regardless of the ramifications it might have. Similarly, Tim Roth was evil purely for the sake of being evil. The movie made exactly three references in the two and a third hours long this movie was to the fact that he was a bastard child and that’s what made him feel the need to be evil.

What was kind of irksome about Rob Roy was the frequency of sex scenes. Both Liam Neeson and Tim Roth had plenty of those, particularly in the first half of the movie. Also much of the plot centers around Cunningham having raped Mary MacGregor (Jessica Lange), and that scene was all kinds of awkward.

The acting was mixed. Tim Roth’s villainous portrayal earned him an Oscar nomination. At the same time, I couldn’t help but feel that Liam Neeson kept forgetting that he was supposed to be Scottish half the time, kind of like how Al Pacino was forgetting he was supposed to be Puerto Rican in Carlito’s Way (1993). I think that is a shame since Liam Neeson is one of my favorite actors. Seeing him slip up as he did in Rob Roy was kind of painful.

Ultimately, Rob Roy is a good way to see the beautiful Scottish highlands while answering the question of where babies come from; I kid you not, Rob Roy explains it to his son toward the end of the film. Otherwise, it very much is just like every other big-budget historical picture, including the historical inaccuracies. If you read the real Rob Roy’s Wikipedia article, you’ll know the events of the film were simply not how it transpired in real life, and I’m sure even before reading it you would know Cunningham is fictional as his brand of evil can only exist in a movie character.

Score: 2/4

Now to end the review with the best scene, namely the warcry at 5:35: