Reviewed by: Jason Murphy
Meet Wilson, British criminal. Having spent the better part of his life in jail, he is released only to hear that his daughter, Jenny, who moved to Los Angeles (seeking fame in the movies as an actress, of course), was suspiciously killed in a freak car accident. Fueled by regret and his own bitternes, he travels to LA to find out about her death and, if possible, avenge it.
“The Limey” is a very unique film. At the core, it’s a tale of revenge, but serves as both a critique of the rich and powerful in Los Angeles, as well as a drama about regrets and missed opportunities. Additionally, there are some great comic touches, mainly stemming from the many “fish out of water” scenarios Wilson finds himself in. Steven Soderbergh (of “Out of Sight” fame) is in top form here. The screenplay is pretty mediocre, but it is really brought to life by his direction, particularly the editing. Soderbergh has a very unique, elliptical style of editing, very poetic, repeating images, which elevates the Limey from your average revenge tale to a work of art. Of course, those looking for a straightforward thriller will more than likely find it distracting or annoying.
There’s some violence in the movie, but I appreciated how understated much of it is. One scene has Wilson walking into a warehouse, with full intention of killing the people within who beat him. Instead of taking the regular Hollywood route of graphically depicting all their deaths, we only see him walk into the warehouse. Wilson being out of sight, several gunshots are heard, and out walks Wilson several seconds later. Touches like that are increasingly rare, and I found the several such touches in this film very refreshing. On the other hand, the screenplay is unfortunately pretty heavy on the profanity.
Terence Stamp plays Wilson wonderfully with an intensity that really drives his character along, old as he may seem. Opposite him is Peter Fonda. His character, sleazy, shallow record producer Terry Valentine, (who is somehow involved with Jenny’s death) is also played very well, never going over the top.
I would highly recommmend “The Limey” for those who are looking for something other than the standard Hollywood fare. It’s a wonderfully crafted film, interesting on both a stylistic and emotional level.
Year of Release—1999