January 9, 2012

Rabid Rewind: The Limey

The Limey
starring Terrence Stamp, Luis Guzman, Lesley Ann Warren, and Peter Fonda
directed by Steve Soderbergh
screenplay by Lem Dobbs
Artisan (1999)

I had never heard of this movie until a couple months ago, around the time Soderbergh's latest film hit theaters. I love revenge movies, so this wound up becoming a bit of a buried treasure for me.

Terrence Stamp plays Wilson, a British ex-con out of prison and on his way to America, namely Los Angeles, after receiving word his daughter died in a horrific car accident. An acquaintance of his daughter informs him that the official story isn't true. She was murdered. So Wilson, in all his don't-f--k-with-me glory, goes on the warpath.

Where this movie strays from the standard fare is how the filmwork jumps from moment to moment in Wilson's journey, like his thoughts are playing out on screen as well. He remembers his daughter, as a child and as a defiant teenager fed up with his criminal lifestyle. He fantasizes what he'll do when he finds the guy responsible for her death, Terry Valentine. Snapshots of the movie are replayed, even preplayed, to emphasize Wilson's emotional state and forebode what's to come.

Wilson is tough as nails, but vulnerable. In one of his early encounters with Valentine's associates he gets the holy hell kicked out of him and thrown out of the building. It's obviously not his first time on the receiving end of an ass-kicking, because he just dusts himself off, grabs his gun, and goes back in the building to lay waste to all but one thug. As the sole survivor flees, Wilson shouts, "Tell him I'm coming! TELL HIM I'M F--KING COMING!!!"

Valentine, played by Peter Fonda, isn't some kingpin badass. He's a record producer with an easy charm that comes from growing up and out of the wildest days of the sixties. The carousing with women half his age is utterly believable, but to think this guy could so easily get caught up in the criminal underworld shows a dichotomy to his life. And when the two start to collide, he starts to fall apart. In a way, I found Valentine kind of a sympathetic character when confronted by Wilson, because he's not a heartless criminal--only a halfwit millionaire with no concept of what his choices have wrought.

It's a bit rough around the edges, the pace dips in a couple spots, but Terrence Stamp knocks it out of the park--even Luis Guzman is sufferable. If you like revenge flicks too, and you haven't seen this one yet, you should definitely watch it.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the most debated movies online. I absolutely love the ambiguity of it and especially the ending scene (in the plane). Probably Soderbergh's finest work, in my opinion.