The Limey was released in 1999 and was directed by Steven Soderbergh. It was his rather low-key follow-up to the previous year’s marvelous Out of Sight. The film stars Terence Stamp, Peter Fonda and Luis Guzman in the main roles. Melissa George also makes a cameo as Stamp’s daughter.
Wilson(Stamp) is a man on a mission. He finds out that his daughter has been killed in a car crash in Los Angeles, so he hops the next plane over from England to suss things out. His daughter(George) was involved with a rich music mogul named Terry Valentine (Fonda), who also has ties with drugs. Having seen little of his daughter because of his propensity for seeing the inside of a jail cell, Wilson feels he must investigate her death properly. This is where things start to go awry. Helping him out is Eduardo Roel(Guzman), a fellow ex-con who knew his daughter from an acting class, and the teacher of the class played by Leslie Ann Warren. These two people knew her best so he tries to piece together a picture of what her life had become while he was away. Because he was no stranger to prison, he inevitably gets sucked into violence, shootings, beatings and general misbehaviour along the way.
Terence Stamp is magnificent in the lead role and really makes me laugh. Because he is a cockney he speaks in rhyming slang, which combined with his accent, thoroughly perplexes his new American friends. This leads to several misunderstandings and humorous occurrences. Peter Fonda gives a great performance, which leaves you wondering why he isn’t used more often in major films. Luiz Guzman, a regular in Soderbergh movies, gives another brilliant supporting performance.
The film is shot in Soderbergh’s trademark inimitable style, which makes for a visual treat. In an inspired decision, he secured the rights to Ken Loach’s 1967 film Poor Cow, starring Terence Stamp, which allowed him to use actual clips of a younger Stamp in this film. While they clash with the slick style of The Limey, the old clips do fit in very well and give us an insight into Wilson’s character. The movie is also edited in a very strange way, sometimes showing an incident first, then going back and showing it again. Some might find this annoying, but it’s certainly different.
The movie has some great music, which tends to come from the sixties mostly. This is because Peter Fonda’s character loves reminiscing about this time. The film opens with The Who’s “The Seeker”, which sets the tone for what is to come.
This is a real cult film and is definitely worth watching, for Stamp’s performance alone. I find the film to be quite funny, others might not, so don’t hold me to that. Soderbergh may have gone on to do much bigger films, such as Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven etc, but this is the kind of movie he does best I think. If you have nothing to do for 90 minutes, this could be for you!