Restless Natives 1985

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Although a popular hit in the UK, Michael Hoffman’s 1985 film was correctly seen as a step-down from Bill Forsyth’s accomplished output, but there’s still much to enjoy in this cheerful tale of Scottish outlaws. Vincent Friell and Joe Mullaney play Will and Ronnie, two impoverished Scots who don clown masks and hop on their motorcycle to start robbing bus-loads of American tourists, who are delighted by their experience of such local colour to brighten their trip. Bender (Ned Beatty) is the cop on their trail, with Mel Smith, Bryan Forbes, his wife Nanette Newman and Robert Urquhart all along for the ride. With an uplifting rock score from Big Country, Hoffman’s Robin Hood update is fast-paced and peppered with neat jokes, like the one about the policeman in the joke shop. Hoffman made a strong Hollywood career with films like The Last Station, but this early work is as good as any of his later, more critically lauded work.

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