The Limey (1999)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama  |   Release Date - Oct 8, 1999 (USA)  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Matthew Tobey

When watching The Limey in light of Steven Soderbergh's 2000, big-budget crowd-pleaser Erin Brockovich, one has to wonder if it was intended less as a follow-up to 1998's Out of Sight than a final art-house hurrah for the director, before being ushered onto the Hollywood A-list. After all, while Soderbergh has proven himself to be one of Tinseltown's smartest, most imaginative talents, with an ability to wow critics and please the masses at the same time, it's doubtful he'll ever again have a profile low enough to make a film as demanding of an audience's attention and void of star power as The Limey. Terence Stamp's Wilson is an aging British ex-con struggling to come to grips with not only the mysterious disappearance of his estranged daughter, but with America and the world after a nine-year prison stint. Soderbergh presents the story through a barrage of risky and unconventional camera and editing techniques, which always add to the tone and somehow never seem gimmicky. One of the best examples of this is the use of clips from 1968's Poor Cow as flashbacks. Featuring a 29-year-old Stamp, Poor Cow's contrasting film stock and color palette give the scenes the look of a memory, as if the viewer is seeing it just as Wilson does. Stamp delivers a performance that is both subtle and engaging, as Wilson contemplates the life he's lived and sets off on a vengeful hunt for his daughter Jenny's former lover, played by Peter Fonda. Fonda is just one of the supporting players who adds depth to the picture. Others include Nicky Katt, Leslie Ann Warren, and perhaps most outstanding, Luis Guzman. Guzman, who later gave a scene-stealing performance in Soderbergh's Traffic, plays Ed, one of Wilson's few allies. With no one else to trust, Wilson forms an unlikely bond with Ed. The interaction between the two characters is unique, human, and understated, much like the film itself. While The Limey may not have broken a hundred million dollars at the box office (or five million, for that matter), or gotten the recognition it deserved from the Academy, it still holds its own among Soderbergh's films; in fact, it's one of his best.