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copyright ©1999-2004

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flick pick | The Limey 1999
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Lem Dobbs
Starring: Terence Stamp, Peter Fonda, Luiz Guzman, Lesley Ann Warren
Look for it at the video store under: drama, crime/action/thriller
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: artsy-fartsy, mind-bending
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5 

Plot synopsis After finishing out his second stint in prison after 9 long years, an Englishman named Wilson learns that his estranged daughter Jenny has died in a car accident in Los Angeles. The newspapers say simply that the car went off a cliff, but her death looks pretty suspicious to all who knew her. Wilson flies out to L.A. in search of her killer, where he meets up with two of Jenny's friends, Eddie and Elaine. Soon, Wilson's hunting down the man he's certain is responsible for Jenny's death, a guy named Terry Valentine who Jenny was living with at the time. Terry's a slick music producer who made a killing promoting the California sound back in the 60s, and if his glitzy lifestyle and ever-charming toothy smile make him seem the complete antithesis of rough-around-the-edges Wilson, that's only on the surface. Both men are of the same generation for whom the 60s were really the heyday, and as it turns out, both also lead a life of crime. And then there's Jenny connecting them as well. Determined to get at the heart of what happened to his daughter, and to make Terry pay for what he's done, Wilson lets Terry know that he's coming for him -- and that no number of bodyguards or hired killers are going to get in his way.

Review On its surface, The Limey looks like your standard Hollywood revenge flick, the stuff of which countless B-movies have been made. Soon into this movie, however, you start to notice that you feel a little off-kilter watching it. The dialogue you're hearing pushes the story forward, but the images keep taking you from past to future to completely imaginary. There's a weird disjointedness between what you see, what you hear, and what you think you know; slowly, what you sort of sense is that you're not so much in the purely present as in Wilson's head, where memory and the here and now struggle to be reconciled. Soderbergh weaves all these images together so beautifully that it actually makes perfect sense as long as you just let the visuals wash over you rather than fight to put all the pieces together in clear linear order -- they gradually build up into something that feels far richer than just the simple plotline would suggest. The Limey's really a character drama dressed-up in action garb, which might make it a disappointment for anyone expecting rapid-fire, shoot-em-up entertainment. Much of the action actually takes place off-screen; you hear the shots without actually seeing the gun. What Soderbergh's interested in isn't so much what his characters are doing or saying, but in what they're thinking and feeling. One of the running jokes in The Limey -- which has many a pretty funny scene mixed in with the artsy-fartsy drama -- is that no one in L.A. can understand a word of Wilson's Cockney-slang-peppered speech. When Luiz Guzman's Eddie asks Lesley Ann Warren's Elaine if she understands even half of what Wilson says, she replies, "No, but I know what he means." Which is precisely how I felt watching The Limey; when those end credits roll, you'd be hard-pressed to describe what exactly it is you've just seen -- a father-daughter flick? an aging criminals tale? or what? All you know for certain is that the movie works, and that this was 89 minutes of your time well spent.  —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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