A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

The Limey

February 1, 2011

The Limey

The last time I watched this movie I watched it for Terence Stamp. I’d seen him in Priscilla and had heard from my co-workers at TLA that he was a complete badass in this movie and that I simply had to see it. And of course they were right. But I didn’t pay much attention to the credits other than that – I was just enjoying this slick, stylish thriller. This time around I noticed a familiar name in the opening credits that had somehow passed me by on the first viewing so I was watching it tonight for Steven Soderbergh.

This movie is the epitome of cool. For one thing it has a hard-boiled thriller feel to it. A sort of Elmore Leonard/Raymond Chandler sensibility. Terence Stamp plays the titular limey – a con, thief and hustler named Wilson who gets out of prison only to discover that his daughter has died in a car accident in LA. He travels there to investigate because he does not believe that it was an accident.

Wilson’s particular brand of investigation is straight forward and brutal. He is a nasty customer not to be messed about with, and there is nobody in the movie who stands a chance once he’s on the war path. His daughter had been dating a wealthy rock producer named Terry Valentine (played with a kind of sleazy smarm by Peter Fonda) and she had had a confrontation with some low-life dock workers about some kind of nefarious deal. Wilson confronts these seedy underworld folks and they soon discover what everybody else in the movie will learn – you do NOT fuck with Wilson. Stamp plays him with a steely-eyed determination and complete conviction at all times. There is never a moment in the film when you do not feel that he is completely in charge.

He then proceeds to stomp all over the entire LA criminal underworld, or so it seems. He crashes a party at Valentine’s place. He puts the fear of god into Valentine’s nefarious bodyguard. He deals with a hit man jired to eliminate him and a corrupt DEA officer. Ultimately he tracks Valentine down to the house where he is hiding out to confront him. It’s a bit like the final scene in Cape Fear – if Max Cady had been the hero of the movie instead of the villain.

In addition to the fantastic cast (Luis Guzman and Lesley Ann Warren play Wilson’s allies and Barry Newman is fantastic as Valentine’s bodyguard) what makes this movie great is the stylish direction. It’s a sort of contemplative thriller. The whole thing is assembled very cleverly from clearly disparate takes with a sort of spontaneous vibe. Dialog is frequently looped over other scenes – there’s a conversation that Wilson holds with his daughter’s friend and dialog coach Elaine which is cut together from two completely different locations for example. The movie flashes forward and back so that it has a sort of magical feel to it. There are a couple occasions where alternate takes are stuck together so that characters repeat themselves. The whole thing ends up with a sort of dream-like quality.

This whole movie absolutely oozes style. It is a melding of the thrillers of yester-year with a modern LA and a slick directorial panache that only Soderbergh could bring. Terrance Stamp is the coolest badass anti-hero you could ever want to see. I wish now that we had Out of Sight and Get Shorty as a follow up. So many movies.

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

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