The Limey (1999) Steven Soderbergh

Production Costs: $9 million
Worldwide Gross: $4 million

An ex-con (Terence Stamp), fresh out of prison, goes to L.A. to try to learn who murdered his daughter. However, he quickly finds that he is completely out of place with no understanding of the culture he finds. His investigations are helped by another ex-con (Luis Guzman). Together they learn that his daughter had been having an affair with a record producer (Peter Fonda), who is presently having an affair with another young woman (Amelia Heinle). An aging actress (Lesley Ann Warren), who also knew his daughter, forces him to look at his own failures as a father. The movie does focus on the drama of the situation and the inter-relationships of the characters and seldom slips into an action piece.

This was a movie I highlighted in the first thread but didn’t really talk about. I got this movie cheap as a blind buy when I was first getting into movies and it has been a great investment.

The main reason for this movies utter badassery is because of Terrance Stamp. This whole movie is a loving character study of Stamp. The character in Limey is based on one of his iconic roles in the 60’s. Wilson is a career criminal who has lost most of his life in prison. He is a man who has missed out on most of his daughter’s life and now has no friends or family. But he also has a fierce intensity to him. Wilson would be just as likely to headbutt you and throw you off a cliff than talk his way out of a situation. It is a multi-layered performance that is probably my favorite of that year.

I kind of misrepresent this as just about Stamp. This brings in other icons of the 60’s such as Barry Newman (Vanishing Point) and Peter Fonda (Easy Rider). Fonda has a very interesting spin on his iconic character. He is someone who has become a corporate sell out and is capitalizing on the 60’s zeitgeist as they say in the movie. Fonda does a great job as a real smarmy coward.

The movie is a mystery but not in the traditional sense. We are not trying to find out who murdered Wilson’s daughter. We find that out pretty early. The mystery is about why she was murdered. It is through Wilson’s back story and flashbacks we learn several key plot points. The final reveal is something which is so subtle but takes you by surprise.

The direction by Soderbergh is solid. The narrative jumps around in time which works very well in revealing key plot points and parts of Wilson’s character. Limey has a great blend of mystery, humor, action, and interesting character development. This is one of Soderbergh’s best movies but does not get any attention. Check this movie out, if only for the wonderful performance by Stamp. You will not be disappointed.

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One Response to “The Limey (1999) Steven Soderbergh”

  1. Had no idea this movie did that poorly. Sometimes people baffle me with poor choices. Excellent film…

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