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Horatio Hornblower: Retribution (2001)

Hornblower: Retribution (original title)
Hornblower and the other officers of the Renown must return to Jamaica to face a court-martial and possible execution for their actions in relieving their unstable captain.


Andrew Grieve


C.S. Forester (stories), Ben Rostul (screenplay)
6 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ioan Gruffudd ... Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower
Robert Lindsay ... Commodore Sir Edward Pellew
David Warner ... Captain James Sawyer
Nicholas Jones ... Lieutenant Buckland
Paul McGann ... Lieutenant Bush
Jamie Bamber ... Lieutenant Archie Kennedy
Philip Glenister ... Gunner Hobbs
Paul Copley ... Matthews
Sean Gilder ... Styles
David Rintoul ... Dr. Clive
Terence Corrigan Terence Corrigan ... Midshipman Wellard
Ian McElhinney ... Captain Hammond
John Castle ... Captain Collins
Gilly Gilchrist ... Randall
Antonio Gil ... Colonel Francisco Manuel Ortega (as Antonio Gil-Martinez)


Before taking the Renown back to Jamaica for their court martial on charges of mutiny, Hornblower, Kennedy, and Bush convince an insecure and indecisive Lt. Buckland, now acting captain, that it would be appropriate to launch a surprise attack on the Spanish fortress at Santo Domingo. Matters are complicated when the inept Buckland incurs the enmity of the local rebels, who now regard them as enemies too. Captain Sawyer's increasing paranoia, deserting seamen, Buckland's growing jealousy of Hornblower, and the duplicity of the Spaniards all complicate the already perilous situation. Written by Gabe Taverney {duke1029@aol.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Adventure | Drama | War


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Did You Know?


At one point, a delusional captain Sawyer mistakes Archie for an "Admiral Brueys" who "died long ago, cut in two lying on the arms box". The captain is speaking about admiral Francois-Paul Brueys, chief of the Napoleonic naval forces that fought Horatio Nelson at the Battle of the Nile in 1798. Brueys died as result of a cannon shot that nearly cut him in half on board his flagship, L'Orient, which blew up an hour later. 800 crew members died. Giving the fact Sawyer is famous for being at the Nile (before Trafalgar, the most daring British victory), it is a very natural mistake to make and evidence of the captain's poor mental health. See more »


After Wellard dies he is clearly still breathing. See more »


4th Lt. Archie Kennedy: I remember when you used to be scared of heights, Mr. Hornblower.
3rd Lt. Horatio Hornblower: [Looking at the height he must descend from] Nothing's changed, Mr. Kennedy.
2nd Lt. Bush: They say one must always do what one dislikes.
3rd Lt. Horatio Hornblower: [Nervously] Oh, yes?
2nd Lt. Bush: When I was a boy, I had to eat turnips.
3rd Lt. Horatio Hornblower: Eat them now, do you?
2nd Lt. Bush: [after Hornblower begins his descent] Never touch 'em.
See more »


Followed by Horatio Hornblower 3 (2003) See more »

User Reviews

Fine entertainment for us armchair sailors
7 July 2001 | by Philby-3See all my reviews

Now here's some uncomplicated Sunday night entertainment for us armchair sailors. Adventure and action on the high sea and the odd hot country, lots of friction among the officers and men, a captain nearly round the twist, and of course the heroic Horny who saves the situation. He winds up before a court martial in Jamaica but we need not fear for him with his old captain and mentor Sir Edward Pellow presiding.

This show cost a lot of money, though I don't think they went as far as James Cameron did in `Titanic' and build a full-sized replica of an 18th century ship of the line. The re-creation of the period detail – weapons, uniforms, boats and tackle, the wardroom, even the brutal medical procedures, brings you right into the action. The personality clashes between officers seem a bit contrived at times – particularly the Billy Budd syndrome – older officers of marginal competence resenting their brighter juniors – but the fellowship amongst Horny and his mates rings true.

Ioan Gruffudd is darkly romantic in appearance but uses this somewhat brooding exterior to show Horny as someone who thinks a bit and then acts quickly and decisively, a very good combination in military matters. He makes it plausible that his friends, Kennedy (James Bamber) and Bush (Paul McGann) should support him, even at considerable risk to themselves.

As is usual in this sort of production, the major and minor roles are all well done. David Warner is convincing as Captain Sawyer, a sort of nautical King Lear, and Nicolas Smith as the aging, fearful first lieutenant Buckland, fits the bill well (albeit playing the role as a less devious version of Jeremy from Kavanagh Q.C.) There is a nicely judged performance by David Rintoul as the wily ship's doctor, and Dobbin is very effective as the Captains's loyal supporter Hobbs. Robert Lindsay does a good senior partner number as Commodore Sir Edward Pellew, actually an historical figure with some islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria named after him, though Hornblower himself is total fiction.

It's funny. In some ways it might have been a film about a law firm, such is the universality of professional culture. Deference to seniority has to be matched against the need to exercise independent professional judgment. Just obeying orders is the lot of the mere technician. A professional officer has to cultivate independence of mind in a milleu that demands obedience to orders. Not an easy task and we can well understand how it proves too much for the unfortunate Buckland.

Anyway, good derring-do stuff, even if Horny doesn't get to kiss anyone.

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

15 April 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Horatio Hornblower: Retribution See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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