The Limey

Dir: Steven Soderbergh, 1999. Starring: Terrance Stamp, Peter Fonda, Luis Guzman, Lesley Ann Warren. Mystery / Thriller.
The Limey

An ex-con straight out of prison travels from the U.K. to sunny Los Angeles to uncover the hidden truth of his only daughter’s mysterious death in a fiery car crash. What he finds is a world that is completely foreign to him and he goes on a rampage to settle the score.

The screenplay by Lem Dobbs is a gritty, darkly comic take on the classic revenge film—a sort of American version of Mike Hodge’s classic Get Carter. The script is lively and uniquely told, providing some wonderfully original moments and dialogue.

Director Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight) is a filmmaker who always seems to be striving to explore the media’s possibilities. Although a fairly straightforward tale of vengeance, in Soderbergh’s hands the film becomes something strange and one of a kind. He maintains a level of hard-boiled Neo-Noir, but gives it a twist that makes it stand out among the many stories in this established genre.

Sarah Flack’s non-linear editing is very unique in The Limey, bounding back and forth in time-space, unfolding the mysterious clues piece by piece. It gives the story a sense of timelessness because we are constantly shifting along with the anti-hero’s understanding of the truth. Also, something quite distinctive to this film is that, in order to provide a sense of Wilson’s life history prior to starting his one-man war, the film borrows old footage from Ken Loach’s directorial debut, 1967’s Poor Cow,  which starred a much younger Stamp.

British acting veteran Terence Stamp (Wanted) is “Wilson”—the “Limey” in question. With his grim expression and steely blue eyes, Stamp plays the character with such resolve and fervor that if you saw this man sauntering your way, you might just high-tail it in the opposite direction.

Luis Guzman (Punch-Drunk Love) plays “Eduardo Roel”—a small time hoodlum who was friends with the deceased and is Wilson’s way into the underbelly of the City of Angels. As usual, Guzman is delightfully amusing as he verbally spars with the Englishman, the two men seldom understanding each other’s heavy accents laced with colloquialisms. The relationship that the two men form is a bit reminiscent of the classic duo, the single-minded Don Quixote de la Mancha and his portly sidekick Sancho Panza.

Peter Fonda (3:10 to Yuma) plays “Terry Valentine”—music producer extraordinaire and former lover to Wilson’s dead daughter. Fonda plays the record executive with an easygoing mixture of unassuming charm overlaying some very serious sleaziness.

The Limey is a film that is able to bring something fresh to what often becomes a stale genre. A must see for fans of revenge tales, but certainly also for anyone who appreciates cinema presented in unconventional ways.

Posted by:
Seamus Smith
Apr 27, 2009 12:47pm
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