February 03, 2004
The Marquis of Montrose has taken a troubled young man into his home in the hopes that the climate of Scotland "will cool the fever in his blood." Archibald Cunningham (Tim Roth) is trouble from the start, immediately seducing the young housemaid, Betty, working in the Marquis' home, and spending the Marquis' money without care or reason.
One man who plans on stretching every last guinea is Robert Roy MacGregor (Liam Neeson) a.k.a. Rob Roy, a local Scot trying to build up his lands and to make a home for his people. He contracts with the Marquis for a loan of 1000 guineas, but when MacGregor's man disappears with the money, treachery is the first thing on his mind. It is, of course, Cunningham and the Marquis' man Killearn who have conspired to steal the money, and Cunningham does more than that: he kills one of MacGregor's dearest friends and dumps the body in the nearby loch.
Besides being a murderer, Cunningham is a violator of women, usually hiding behind his station to pursuade or force the opposite sex to do his will. In the case of Betty, she falls in love with the young man, and he cares nothing for her. Even after she reveals she is pregnant by him, her dear "Archie" tells her with a smile: "Love is a dunghill, and I am but a cock who climbs atop it to crow." When the legendary Rob Roy is declared an outlaw by the Marquis, Cunningham greedily takes on the job to bring him in. He heads straight for MacGregor's home where his wife Mary remains behind. Cunningham orders the family's cattle slaughtered, their crops destroyed, and their house burned down. In the middle of it all, he rapes Mary while Killearn watches. He exits with a grin and makes sure Mary knows his name so the great Rob Roy can come for his revenge.
Cunningham eventually does capture MacGregor; he ties him up and beats him savagely, completing MacGregor's humiliation by dragging him behind a galloping horse for Cunningham's amusement. Rob Roy escapes only to learn the terrible truth about what Cunningham did to his wife, and he arranges a duel with the villain through the help of a local nobleman who stands against the Marquis. In one of the great (and most emotional) swordfights in movie history, the already wounded Rob Roy and Cunningham battle to certain death. MacGregor, a brawler with the sword, is continually nicked and stabbed by the swifter Cunningham until he can take no more. MacGregor slices his sword through Cunningham's body, nearly cleaving him in two. The fight is over, and the assault on Mary has been avenged. Archibald Cunningham's place in history as one of the most awful bastards in cinema is unshakable, but thanks to the great Rob Roy, he'll never violate another woman again.
INTELLIGENCE - 5: Cunningham is spoiled, pampered, and far too proud to be considered clever.
POWER - 7: His skills with the sword are amongst the best in recent memory.
VILENESS - 10: He's a murderer and rapist, but more than this, he cares nothing for the well being of anyone but himself.
SWAY - 5: His charm is as fake as the wig atop his head. His sword speaks louder.
PURITY - 10: Cunningham is admittedly beyond repair, "a bastard" who cares nothing for others' love or lives.
PHYSICAL - 5: He's a snarling, stringy beast, but his eyes reveal his true deadly intensity.
Thanks to the Baroness for her help writing this bio!
Posted by Destro at February 3, 2004 12:00 PM