Dec. 1, 1999 -- "The Limey" is a very stylish, artistic film about some gangsters with a bit of a feud, which leads to a lot of people getting killed.
Director Steve Soderbergh (who last directed "Out of Sight") this time gets carried away with the flashbacks and flashforwards. The viewer feels like he's in a dark room with a stroboscope going, and a lot of people are being replaced between strobe flashes. It is hard to keep track of what was happening, or what will happen, or whatever. By the end of the movie, you don't really care.
Terence Stamp (of "Bowfinger" and "The Phantom Menace") plays Wilson, the Limey, a hardened ex-con from England come to Los Angeles to find out about the death of his daughter under mysterious circumstances. He finds out that a big-time record producer with mob ties, Valentine (Peter Fonda of "Ulee's Gold") may be the one behind her death.
Wilson goes after Valentine, starting with some criminals who underestimate his toughness and deadliness. Valentine starts to get worried. After a while, he starts feeling like a fish caught in a net. There is no escaping Wilson's deadly pursuit. Despite all the violence in the film. It is not made like an action film. The violence is often implied, rather than shown.
At the end of the film, we do get sort of a resolution about what happened to Wilson's daughter and how Wilson feels about that. To me, it wasn't a satisfactory resolution. It seemed to be about half-told, and that's the same problem I had with the rest of the film. It just did not seem like a fully realized story.
This film, I think, demonstrates the fact, that it certain types of storytelling, at least, images can only go so far in telling the story. You need some good dialogue at times. "Smoke" is one of my favorite movies with great dialogue. Some would say it has too much dialogue, but I think it proves a film can tolerate a lot of dialogue if it moves the story along. "The Limey" lacks good dialogue, and as a result, the images can't carry the film. For instance, the dialogue between Wilson and Elaine (Lesley Ann Warren of "Twin Falls Idaho") could have shed a lot of light on the plot, but it didn't go far enough, ditto with the dialogue between Wilson and Ed (Luis Guzmán of "The Bone Collector").
Stamp is very effective as Wilson, the brooding, relentless killer. and Guzmán is good as a man who feels something should be done to set right the killing of Wilson's daughter. Many of the interactions between the other characters seemed stiff and unconvincing, as if they were acting in a home movie of some sort and they didn't have any idea what the plot of the movie was. This film rates a D.
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