Review: The Limey (1999)


Who wouldn’t watch a show about a big fat guy?

Written By: Lem Dobbs
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

It doesn’t matter where or when The Limey takes place. Time is distorted, the film moves forward and it moves backward with free will. We can’t control what we see, when we see it or how we see it. The only man with any control is Wilson, his dogmatic devotion to avenging his daughter puts him in a place where he knows the when, where and how even when we don’t. I’m sure if you break it down long enough and hard enough a linear timeline can be formed out of The Limey, but that would defeat the purpose. The viewer isn’t supposed to be in control of what they are seeing, only Wilson is afforded that luxury.

For me two things propelled The Limey above standard revenge fare, the direction of Steven Soderbergh and the acting from Terence Stamp as Wilson. The two work hand in hand, whether this was as a result of Stamp going along with Soderbergh or Soderbergh working off of the performance of Stamp I don’t know. I don’t think we need to know why The Limey ends up as such a harmonious picture, we just need to recognize that it is such a unique union of talent.

One of the reasons I loved Traffic so much was because of the talents Soderbergh put on display as a director. The Limey isn’t as full of depth in the directing department, but that’s not to say that The Limey is lacking in the direction department. I thoroughly loved how Soderbergh played with time and space, both in static shots and in how he edited around any sort of linear narrative. By removing the linear aspect Soderbergh creates a vehicle for the obsessive nature of one man, and by cutting off the usual methods through which the audience gains their knowledge he forces the viewer to go along for the ride.

Despite his terrific turn in The Limey I will always view Terence Stamp as General Zod. I didn’t even like Superman II that much, but he created such an iconic character in that role that I will always remember him as the good General. Stamp chooses to toss himself completely into the role of Wilson in The Limey. I believe that he recognized early on how much the movie would depend on his performance and he made sure his performance wasn’t lacking. He is dogged, he is hard, he is believable, there is grit just as much as there is sorrow and longing. You fear his character a tad bit while cheering him on at the same time. It may not be the role I will remember him the most for, but Stamp as Wilson in The Limey may be his best role.

There are some odd moments in The Limey, moments that feel like they could have been done away with. I enjoyed Stacy a fair deal, but his storyline and that of the DEA/whoever the heck those black dudes were could have been done away with. Neither was done badly, but they do distract from the singular pulse of Wilson’s quest to find and kill the man who murdered his daughter. Still, that singular pulse manages to carry The Limey past even those rough points. It’s certainly not an original premise, but The Limey feels like a unique experience thanks to the performance of Stamp and the touches Soderbergh adds to the production. Every once in a while you need a good old fashioned bad ass revenge tale to make you smile, the next time you need that, make yours The Limey.




3 responses to “Review: The Limey (1999)

  1. Gotta see this one again. Terrence Stamp and Steven Soderbergh is one mean combo. Good review.

  2. Terence Stamp owns this movie. I think of it more as a Terence Stamp film than a Soderbergh film even.

  3. Aiden – They do make a great combo.

    Edgar – I can see that take. Sodie certainly leaves his mark, but Stamp kind of owns it.

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