Steven Soderbergh
USA 1999
91 min

The refreshing thing inherent in this movie that ricochets from contemplative Coin Flats, Downtown Disasterville and then Waterfront congeniality, is a deft shorthand sadly missing from Soderbergh's previous releases, <i>Erin Brokovich</i> and <i>Traffic</i> (both 2000). Through this concise slickness and hurried methodology, Soderbergh works wonders with drab exchanges. Even the conventions of an obvious plot-point meeting between Wilson and Ed, a Cow Town Chicano with a social conscience (he wears Ché Guevara and Mao Zedung t-shirts) functions more as an oblique interrogation, brimming with dialogue bridges, rapid-fire inserts and blank looks from the actors. Guzman makes a good Second Banana, even if he registers only two good expressions: anxious and really anxious.
Moreover, while Ed struggles to inform the male-volent Wilson of his daughter's dubious relationship with dodgy record industry executive Terry Valentine (Peter Fonda), he's soon assisting this displaced West-End Mad dog in negotiating the unfamiliar LA terrain. Before long Wilson becomes an amphibian adaptable to every environment, high society gatherings and Beverly Hills sophisticates. Possessing the neo-noir hero's paradox: Wilson like Boorman's Walker (Lee Marvin) blends in everywhere, yet maintains the marginal anonymity of a man obsessed by the truth. In a tailor-made role, Stamp resists the urge to overcook any of the self-pitying traits of the character. He is good at virile implosion and even better at point-of-no-return conviction, dominating most of the film with a rigid scorn. The trouble rests on the other players, forced to share the screen with him. Furthermore, one of the pleasures of this one-man-show is the lack of grandstanding by the minor players. Unlike the star system pyrotechnics of Douglas-Zeta-Jones-Quaid in Traffic, the minor roles of <i>The Limey</i> are less forgettable than what they should be. Bodyguards get the same dumbbell treatment as the heavies in <i>Out of Sight</i> (1998), yet each contributes a coarse liveliness to their allotted deglamourised screen moment. The humour of <i>The Limey</i> emanates from a slick-talk jag that is refreshingly dissimilar to the lead-weighted leftism attached to the majority of crowd-pleasing quips dumped in Traffic. Soderbergh and screenwriter Lem Dobbs achieve an unsteady throwaway screen suspension loaded with jaded pop-cultural observations.
Bill Craske

  • Terence Stamp - Dave Wilson
  • Peter Fonda - Terry Valentine
  • Ann Warren - Elaine Lesley
  • Lern Dobbs
  • Ed Lachman
  • Jim Webb
  • Sarah Flack
  • Cliff Martinez
  • Gary Frutkoff
  • Louise Frogley
Aficionado Productions

Summit Entertainment

35 mm
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