A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 338 – The Limey

The Limey – February 1st, 2011

I vaguely recall when this movie came out, seeing ads for it on television and thinking it looked good. After all, it had Terence Stamp in it, and I love Terence Stamp. As an aside, I still hold a grudge against the Star Wars prequels for having Terence Stamp and wasting him. When you have an actor like Stamp you need to give him something awesome to work with, and it definitely looked like this movie did. And then? I don’t know. I never got around to it. But that’s the whole point of a project like this. To get around to all the movies I’ve meant to see for years and never think of putting in when I have time and only think about when I’m too busy or at work or something. And thank goodness, because this was fantastic.

It is a movie about a man on a mission. It’s a movie about family and the choices people make and where those choices lead them. But mostly it is about a man on a mission, and as such it as a very tight focus. We don’t get to know many of the characters terribly well, but we’re given glimpses of them in relation to our lead character, Wilson. Now, when I say Wilson is a bad ass, I don’t think it truly communicates just what he is. He is a Bad Ass. He’s cool and calm and utterly capable of fucking your shit up without breaking a sweat. And the whole time he’ll be peppering his speech with Cockney Rhyming Slang and you’ll be having your ass kicked and you won’t even know why. All you will know is that you never want this man after you ever again. He is that sort of lead man.

Wilson is in LA investigating the death of his daughter, Jenny. He’s an ex-con, just out of a nine year stint in prison in England, and he’s convinced that the accident she supposedly died in was no accident. When he arrives he looks up the man who mailed him information about her death and that meeting leads him on the path to his daughter’s death. She was dating a somewhat slimy music promoter named Terry Valentine. There was a drug deal involved, money laundering, thugs, and Valentine’s personal chief of security, an even slimier guy named Avery. And Wilson slips right in, causing trouble and finding leads. He even tangles with the DEA and comes out on top. He tracks down Valentine and deals with every obstacle in his way, somehow also making friends with Ed (who wrote to him) and Elaine, his daughter’s acting coach.

For a movie about drug deals and hit men and the like, it’s a remarkably quiet piece. It’s a thriller, really, semi-noir, but still. It’s quiet. Peaceful, almost, which I believe comes from the concept that the vast majority of it is supposed to be memory. It’s an interesting aesthetic. Actually, most of the movie is a collection of interesting aesthetics. From the sometimes off-center shot composition to the occasional flashlight-like spotlighting to the disconnected visuals and dialogue. It’s all carefully crafted to seem a little off-kilter and a little unreal.

The scene where Wilson and Elaine are talking, getting to know each other through their shared connection of Jenny, has this gentle piano music playing in the background and it reminds me of nothing so much as a scene in Diva. There’s something oddly serene about it. Incongruous with the action and tension and danger of the rest of the movie. It could feel out of place, but it doesn’t. It’s a spot of contrasting color. It crops up every once in a while throughout the movie, but that scene in particular struck me. It’s the fond memory – the positive bit – in the middle of something unpleasant but necessary. It sets the whole movie apart for me as a sort of anti-thriller. There are thriller aspects to it, certainly, but it was rare that I actually felt tense or thrilled. It was more of a glide.

Everything in this movie is stylized and, as I said, tightly focused. It is the story of a man. We even get to see some early footage of Terence Stamp from the 1967 movie Poor Cow, set up to be memories Wilson has of his youth (and my goodness, take a look at him – hot). But it’s also the story of his mission and the people it brings him in contact with. Ed, played by Luis Guzman, is a great foil for him and Elaine, played by Lesley Ann Warren, is an interesting not-quite-love-interest. There’s something there, but it’s never quite realized. After all, that’s not part of Wilson’s mission. And then there’s Peter Fonda as Valentine, a nemesis who doesn’t quite work out that way. It’s a well crafted movie and a well scripted movie and a well acted movie and Terence Stamp is most certainly not wasted here.

February 1, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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