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Low-key thriller/drama about an ex-con seeking revenge on the man that
caused his daughters death. That's the surface of this very interesting and
fascinating movie from director Soederbergh. There's more than meets the
eye, and the patient viewer will be highly rewarded.
This is, in my point of view, a film about all our efforts to review our own lives - i.e. trying to make memories of our past fit in with the reality of today. To try to understand all sides of an event between two people; how actions we take, and decisions we make, makes a difference in the long run in our lives.
Wonderfully directed and edited, this movie is really alive, and shines with various tricks and treats of pure movie magic. The score is perfect, and the acting is great (Stamp in the lead is amazing). The way the film makers intertwine dialogue and voice over is fascinating, and reminds me of the films by French movie makers in the sixties (the French "New Wave").
Obviously not in everyone's taste since this movie is quite demanding in attention and pace, this is still one of the best films ever from director Soederbergh. Rating: 9/10.
The `revenge story' is a pretty overdone plot device, so when a film comes
along that employs this theme and still remains fresh and compelling, it is
safe to say that is a truly good film. Steven Soderbergh's `The Limey' is
able to do just that. In `The Limey', Terrence Stamp plays Wilson, a career
criminal who, upon being released from prison in England, finds out that his
estranged daughter has died (or perhaps been murdered) in Los Angeles.
Wilson's mission is to find out what happened to her, and prescribe his own
brand of justice on the man behind her death.
Soderbergh's direction in `The Limey' is superb. While I enjoy and admire most of his filmography, I was so enamored with his second film, the barely-seen, highly acclaimed `Kafka' for its originality, its daring style and intellectual feel, that films like `Oceans Eleven' and `Erin Brockovich', while quite good, didn't reflect what I felt was to be his true maverick style. Seeing `The Limey', made before `Erin Brockovich' and shortly a couple of years after `Kafka', I was happy to see that he kind of held on to that spirit (for lack of a better expression) for one more film before producing more commercial fare. `The Limey' is told in a very non-linear style, and not even as clearly delineated as say, `Pulp Fiction' was; rather it is flashbacks and real-time events expressed by fluttering scenes and an almost wispy presentation. Soderbergh also employs scenes from one of Terrence Stamp's films from the 1960's for some flashbacks, a thoroughly brilliant and creative tactic.
Terrence Stamp certainly deserves mention for his performance as Wilson. Whether seeing him as General Zod in `Superman II' or as the drag queen Bernadette in `The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert' he is a true badass. Watching him chase after Peter Fonda in `The Limey' was like watching a reincarnation of Yul Brunner in `Westworld'; he just never let up. Anyone who would get in his way were pretty much toast, but it was all so coldly done that it was almost clinical just by the hard and distant expression on Wilson's face you know that all of these people were incidental and he wouldn't receive any pleasure until he comes face to face with his nemesis; and even then, it's possibly more of a duty than a pleasure.
Check out this film you won't regret it. However, if you're expecting a film with the same kind of commercial tone as say, `Oceans Eleven' you may be in for a surprise, albeit, in this viewer's opinion, a pleasant one.
I always thought the Russian Montage Theory was too outdated for modern cinema, but Steven Soderbergh had other ideas. The Limey had one of the more interesting editing styles I have ever seen, which is why it probably threw so many people in a loop. Its too bad we will never see another film like this from Soderbergh, considering he's probably going to keep making films like Oceans 11. Terence Stamp was especially good in this film, and Luis Guzman provided one of the best screen roles by a Mexican-American. What I especially enjoyed about this movie wasn't just the unique editing style, it was how it affected the emotional standpoint within the movie. You felt distanced, unsure how to look at this film due to the range of images passing before your eye. One of the more unappreciated films of 1999, especially when one looks at the amazing body of work which came out that year.
Somewhere between Out of Sight and the hype of the Erin
double-punch, Soderbergh made this diamond of a film. Terence Stamp is
gem at the centre of it, his beautiful face, always a cinematic treasure,
virtual masterclass in film acting. How this performance went ignored is
beyond me but maybe that punishment is fitting for the career criminal he
He is Wilson who after finishing a nine-year sentence "at her Majesty's leisure" goes to L.A. to discover how his daugher, Jenny, met her end while he was in the big house and to avenge her death. Peter Fonda plays her former lover, a wicked, soulless record producer who was big in the sixties and both actors trade on the ghosts of their cinematic pasts to striking effect; particularly Stamp, as footage from his 1967 film, Poor Cow (directed by Ken Loach), is repurposed and edited into the film's ever-shifting timescape. (It is a credit to Soderbergh that he would dare to use another filmmaker's footage and make it so central to his own, even using Loach's footage for his closing shots. In Soderbergh's hands it shows that he is first and foremost a storyteller instead of a shallow egotist and it plays like a grand, cinematic homage to his star.)
Soderbergh shuffles time and Wilson's life like a deck of cards yet always keeps the story moving forward--the editing by Sarah Flak is a marvel. It's a lovely, startling effect; rather than weigh the narrative down with a number of plodding, onerous details, this style keeps the thing as light as a souffle yet full of implications as we imagine the ways and necessities of Wilson telling and retelling, hashing over his life, representing and misrepresenting his actions or inaction. These are the lies he tells himself, the truth he can live with. It's completely engaging and frees the viewer to imagine the surrounding details and circumstances however they like. He certainly couldn't have done it with anyone but Stamp, who is solid throughout; his stillness and his beautiful blue, crystalline eyes like placid pools of water that mask a depth of feeling and a lifetime of regret. That we empathise with an ignoble savage like Wilson at all is purely down to Stamp's controlled, unsentimental performance. Stamp's Wilson doesn't make apologies. Terence Stamp is iconic precisely because of the films he chose to make, particularly after Schlesinger's Far From The Madding Crowd when he could've done anything but went to work with Loach, Pasolini and Fellini instead. Like his co-star Fonda, who also spent many years in the wilderness, Stamp's performance in The Limey stands as a long-promised return to form, which he'd been hinting at for years.
There's great support from Luis Guzman, Lesley Ann Warren (as an L.A. acting coach, who suggests in her few short scenes with Stamp a potentially epic romance), Barry Newman as Fonda's henchman and the startlingly fresh Amelia Henle who shows that, yes, there is an art to playing "the girlfriend." (Joe Dallesandro is in there somewhere as well in some capacity but is completely unrecognisable.) If the slight bit in the middle lacks the polish of the beginning and the end (it appears a large subplot about two hitmen must've been jettisoned in the editing room), the dialogue still crackles throughout, with Stamp--as a one-man amalgam of London's east end--throwing off Cockney rhyming slang ("China" "plates" thus "mates") and reminding us of what made London swing in the '60's. Very stylish, Soderbergh's control of the emotional depth of the story is impressive, as is the acting--as always in his films. Deserves a much wider audience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm sorry, but I'm really not going a comment on this film so much as
comment on some of the other comments I've seen here. People
complaining that they couldn't follow the narration or don't understand
why the main character doesn't enact his revenge, I really don't know
much what to say other than for you it's probably best to just stick
with the Hollywood fluff pics where the male star lead always makes it
in the end with the female star lead and there's plenty of explosions
and bright flashy images to keep you distracted from the fact there's
no plot, no decent dialog, no character growth, and no appreciation of
film making as art. If your point of reference is recalling the
fantastic ground breaking story telling tools of True Lies, well,
This was an incredible piece dealing not with revenge or action or any of the surface issues used to tell the story, but actually about a man realizing how his decisions in life impacted his daughter. It's about personal growth. In the end, he, himself, is ultimately the one he's seeking revenge against. There is a good speech he gives about mid way through the movie while talking to the DEA agent that clearly explains why he doesn't kill the Fonda character. You have to know what matters and when. When he comes to the end and realizes where and when he stands, ready to kill, it's very clear it's no longer the issue he needs to deal with, so he moves on.
And one more thing about the way this story is told with the flash forwarding technique, sometimes you just have to sit back and watch a film. Not spend most of the movie being confused and dissatisfied over what you can't pin down and put into linear sense before you've seen the whole thing, but just sit back and let the director and writer do their thing and take it in. When they're done with their work, it will be clear (unless you spend 90 minutes furrowing your brow and resisting of course...).
I mean, Pulp Fiction is an incredible movie, but did you spend the whole thing confused and upset over what Pumkin and Honey Bunny were doing in the opening scene or how it would fit into the film to the point of not understanding the rest of it? No, you just take the scene in and move on to the next one, and when you reach the end, it makes sense.
Soderbergh is a really odd director. His movies have run the gamut from the
wacky, self indulgent surrealism of 'Schizopolis' to the pandering, sell-out
mediocrity of 'Ellen Brockovich'. He's really hard to get a handle on. 'Out
Of Sight' was stylish with an outstanding cast but left me cold. 'Traffic'
featured a handful of great performances, most notably Benicio Del Toro's,
but was overall simplistic, unconvincing and cliched. For my money his
strongest achievements to date have been his overlooked noir-ish
'Underneath', and this, his involving revenge drama 'The
Terrence Stamp, a fine actor who has appeared in more than his fair share of bad movies, really takes this role and runs with it. He radiates dignity and power as Wilson, the English career criminal out to avenge the death of his estranged daughter. My only problem with his performance, and the movie as a whole, is his Cockney accent, which borders on caricature. If you can get over that hurdle you'll be impressed by the depth of his performance.
Peter Fonda, who has never impressed me much as an actor in the past (not even his much lauded role in the overrated 'Ulee's Gold'), is also fine as the sleazy record producer who Wilson suspects of wrongdoing. Stamp and Fonda obviously relish playing these characters, and their chemistry together is the cornerstone of the movie. Both actors are supported by an impressive array of old and new faces - including a surprisingly effective Lesley Anne Warren (her best since 'Cop'), the always watchable Luis Guzman ('Boogie Nights', 'Carlito's Way', etc.), blasts from the pasts Barry Newman (cult classic 'Vanishing Point') and Joe Dallessandro (former Warhol superstar), and future star in the making Nicky Katt ('Strange Days', 'SubUrbia').
Soderbergh cleverly uses footage from Ken Loach's kitchen sink drama 'Poor Cow' for flashbacks, and plays upon Stamp and Fonda's 60s screen personas, but the film is no exercise in mere nostalgia. 'The Limey' is a rarity in Hollywood these days - an intelligent, thoughtful, well crafted and acted adult movie. I liked it a lot.
For modern-day revenge movie, this is unusually low-key and pretty
good. It's nothing super but it sneaks up on you. It might bore you,
but it might not:. It's really hard to say.
If you enjoy a character study by an interesting actor (Terrence Stamp) you might like this. But, beware, it has its slow moments. What it is, is simply another revenge tale, so often told but so often fun to watch. This one is about a British criminal (Stamp) getting out of jail, finding out that something bad had happened to his daughter in Los Angeles, and going for the man (Peter Fonda) he feels is responsible for that.
There is a bit too much flashback in here, so you have to be prepared to put up with that. Of note, the filmmakers used actual film footage from a 1967 film of Stamp to show him in his younger days.
What I did really enjoy was Stamp's vocabulary and the interesting looks on his face. The supporting cast also adds nicely to this story, particularly Barry Newman, who plays Fonda's bodyguard. There isn't a lot of action in here but when it does occur, it's pretty intense.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Soderbergh deserves respect, as much for his failures (`Brokovich,' `Traffic') as his successes (this, `Sight,' `Videotape'). When he experiments, it is with simultaneous layers of different kinds involving the eye, the mind, time, remembrance.
Here he works on small, intimate layers, small visions of the future (and possible futures), persistent large memories from the past. All is handed with a shifting perspective -- the camera is nowhere because it is everywhere -- you are not eavesdropping, the limelight is on you. Unless you insist on driving, this editing is mind-expanding -- literally -- because he places you all around simultaneously.
This is such a controlled little film, one wonders why Soderbergh is so irregular. I believe it is because he crafts his vision to the peculiar conditions of the narrative. He knows to replicate the last victory would be impossible (listen up Coppola!) so why try? Move on. He deserves as much respect, I believe, for the failures as well as solid gems like this.
Like its title and leading man (Terrance Stamp), "The Limey"
by what it is NOT. Stamp plays an aging hood, a "Limey," who has spent much
of his life in prison. At first glance, Stamp appears a
who is now throwing what remains of his life away on a
vendetta against an aging rock producer (Peter Fonda) who may or
not be responsible for the death of Stamp's daughter. However, director
Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic," "Out of Sight," "Erin Brockavich"),skillfully
intercuts scenes of past, present and future, nonsync dialogue, music,
peripheral action and plotting to create an efficient, consistently
surprising and highly effective movie. Just as the film is about to become
routine and predictable, new key characters and plot information is
revealed. To Soderbergh's credit, this never seems forced or contrived.
Alas, Soderbergh's style tends to undercut the effectiveness of Leslie's
Warren's role, and the climactic shoot out
is disappointingly pat. Nevertheless,the payoff is terrific. Special note
should be made of the performances of Luis Guizman, Barry Newman and,
especially, Nicky Katt ("Boston Public").
Don't let the title fool you, "The Limey" is one terrific movie and Soderbergh, for once, deserves all the praise he can get.
This is no lime! I mean lie! Director Steven Soderbergh's "The Limey" is one of the most beautifully photographed films I have ever seen. The film stars Terence Stamp who once again readily delivers a terrific performance. The film is about an aging ex-con who tries to avenge the killers who murdered his daughter. Oh blimey! I mean limey! I almost forgot! Peter Fonda executes a very subtle but assenting performance as the mischievous paranoid record executive. However, it is Director's Steven Soderbergh direction that makes this film sweet as lime. Colors reflecting moods, overlapping dialogue intersecting between different scenes, and character thought-provoking facial gestures are all Soderbergh traits that are once again perfected to make every scene work. If you don't believe me, go watch "The Limey" and then you will now that I am not lying. **** Good
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