The Limey

Dave Wilson (Terrance Stamp, Bowfinger, Star Wars Episode I) is one tough old Englishman. He is fresh out of another jail sentence when he learns his daughter Jennifer has died, he travels to America to unravel the mysterious circumstances. He suspects that the man she was dating, a record producer named Terry Valentine (Peter Fonda, Ulee's Gold, The Passion of Ayn Rand). Thus begins Steven Soderbergh's (sex, lies, and videotape, the highly underrated Out of Sight) new, unconventional movie, The Limey. As in Out of Sight and a number of other recent films, non-linear storytelling reigns supreme here.

Wilson needs to know what happened to his daughter, and he sets out to get an answer, at any cost, from Valentine. Wilson is unbelievably tough. After being beaten by three men who declare "if you come back, we're gonna kill you," Wilson proceeds to stand up and go back in to deal out some whoop-ass. His determination is incredible, and he will do anything to get the answers he wants. He is also very out of place in modern America. His British accent, already unintelligible to many, is made worse by his use of out of date slang. He thinks that a group of valets are armed guards. Valentine, on the other hand, is pure slime. There is something more to his involvement, but he isn't talking. The only people helping Wilson are Ed (Luis Guzman (Out of Sight, Snake Eyes), a friend of Jennifer's from an acting class, and Elaine (Leslie Ann Warren, Going All the Way, Twin Falls Idaho), Jennifer's dialogue coach. Stamp and Fonda are both considered acting icons, both acting for over 30 years. Their resumes are impressive, and the job they do here is equally superb. Under Soderbergh, Stamp, Fonda, and the other actors give polished performances, technically near perfect. Fonda's character even gets the chance to reference Easy Rider, probably his best known movie.

Then it gets stranger. In the 1960s, Stamp was in a film called Poor Cow. There, he played a British con named Wilson. Soderbergh acquired the rights to the movie, and deftly inserts sections of the film into The Limey as flashbacks. The scenes fit seamlessly into Lem Dobbs' script, and the effect of watching another Stamp, younger by thirty years, is eerie. Soderbergh then ratchets up the style factor by telling the story the way that he wants to tell it. Why bother with foreshadowing when you can just show a future scene? Soderbergh throws in shots from future scenes, which initially may not make certain sense. At one point, he has Wilson shoot Valentine time three different ways (like a Run Lola Run scenario) before the actual event (if it does happen) happens. Sometimes during a conversation, a characters lips will not movie. It seems like the person is thinking, but the conversation is still occurring, and the other person will then respond. Soderbergh will also combine two or three conversations into a coherent one. The effect is interesting, and unlike anything else currently out there, but probably a little weird for the average moviegoer.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated R for violence and language.

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