First Class Stamp
Director Steven Soderbergh is a man who does style and most of his movies are packed full of it, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. "The Limey" is no different as it is a typical stylish Soderbergh movie with the use of flash backs, flash forwards, colouring and camera angles amongst other things to capture your attention. But strip all the style away and what you have is a vengeance movie, a movie about dad tracking down the killer of his daughter and looking for his own justice. Does the style add anything to the movie, well certain elements help tell the story and raises it to more than just a simple vengeance movie but sometimes it's a little too much, never a case of style over substance but style just for the sake of it which makes it feel a little bit too artsy when artsy is not really needed.
Fresh out of prison after a 9 year stretch, career criminal Wilson (Terence Stamp - The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) heads to L.A. determined to discover the truth behind his daughter's death. Despite being totally out of place in L.A. Wilson discovers that his daughter was having an affair with a music producer when she died and sets about finding Terry Valentine (Peter Fonda - Easy Rider) to find the truth and get vengeance. But at the same time he has to face his past when a friend of his daughters coaxes him into examining his own life and how it may have in someway influenced his daughter and her decisions.
So as already mentioned stripped to its bare bones and "The Limey" is a vengeance movie where we watch career criminal Wilson head to L.A. and go on the war path looking for the murderer of his daughter. Now as such there is something very obvious about the story and whilst there is some toing and froing as well as a couple of decent twists you can guess that Wilson will kill a few people along the way to get the truth and getting some form of justice. But it's all well worked and the stylish use of flash backs and flash forwards makes for a snappy and entertaining movie especially as we watch Wilson dish out his own form of brutal punishment on those who get in his way.
And at the same time of embellishing this vengeance story with style Soderbergh also fills it with dark humour. A running gag of Americans not understanding Wilson's cockney accent is entertaining as is the general forcefulness of Wilson. It may seem almost caricature like the way Terence Stamp plays Wilson, giving him a touch of Michael Caine with a dose of Bob Hoskins but it works and you strangely warm to this man and his confidence as well as find his forcefulness and bluntness quite amusing.
But the thing is that at times it feels as if Soderbergh goes one step too far and throws style at scenes which not necessary require it. Various flashbacks have a very artsy feel to them with their blue hues and for me it ended up detracting from the story. Some will enjoy this heavy styling and to be honest it raises "The Limey" to be more than just a vengeance movie full of violence with some stunning L.A. backdrops but at the same time it occasionally feels like style for styles sake rather than what it would add to telling the story.
And it has to be said the styling ends up detracting from the emotional level of the story as Wilson having made friends with his daughter's best friend reminisces about her childhood and her dislike of his life of crime. It feels like it's a wasted opportunity to explore the emotional level of how Wilson feels as he comes to learn that his actions helped to mould his daughter into the woman she became and in part was influential in her death, in an indirect way.
What is for certain is that "The Limey" is Terence Stamp's movie as he dominates almost every scene and makes it his with his forceful performance as Wilson. So captivating is Stamp that whilst "The Limey" also features performances from Peter Fonda, Luis Guzmán, Lesley Ann Warren and Barry Newman they all end up over shadowed as effective supporting performers. Although it's quite fun listening to Peter Fonda as Terry Valentine reminisces about the 60s to the new attractive young lady in his life.
What this all boils down to is that "The Limey" is a good movie and as you would expect from Steven Soderbergh a very stylish affair. Occasionally it does feel like style for styles sake but it does make what is a simple vengeance movie into something much more entertaining. And at the centre of this is Terence Stamp whose forceful performance as Wilson is captivating and often darkly amusing.