Possibly the worst edited and directed film since Zabriskie Point. Flash forwards, flash backwards, flash bloody sideways; slow-mo, fast-mo, every cliché in the book. Result? Confused irritation on the viewer's part. Two stars only because I'm feeling generous and because the excess of gratuitous violence made me giggle.
Soderbergh's trademark efficiency in this late 90s gem is all too evident when characters are reduced to their basic essence (Peter Fonda's villain is "evil" because he's devoid of good; Terence Stamp's ex-con from England has only one plan: find the villain, make him suffer, smoke cigarettes). When screenwriter Lem Dobbs pursued Robert Aldrich to direct, he ignored Dobbs. Soderbergh, instead, ennobles his script.
The Limey is one of those smaller great movies not a lot of people know about. It starts off damn strong but loses some steam by the end and is drenched in Soderberghness all throughout. (Namely the incredibly creative Poor Tom... samples used for the flashbacks) Terence Stamps voice seemed too refined and regal for the Cockney thing but he was great nonetheless. The warehouse scene alone is worth the watch.
After finishing it, it seems like I should like it more than I do, but for some reason I just feel kind of ho-hum about it. The direction and editing are very good, but I was never as engrossed in the story as other people reacted to it. Can definitely appreciate the Soderbergh craft though, as well as give a shout-out to Luis Guzman who is always solid in his supporting roles.
Soderbergh's approach places the audience inside the head of the central character, creating an inner-space where the revenge plot can develop as a series of potential 'what if...' scenarios, fuelled by memory and despair. The result is something like a cut-up, stream of consciousness psychodrama, created around the structural experimentation of The Underneath, cross-cut with the neo-noir formalism of Out of Sight...
One of those great small films that Soderbergh is so good at. It made me a fan of Terrance Stamp (especially his line delivery) and it makes very creative use of one of Stamp's early films. The film is still unknown and underrated enough to be a discovery to those of you out there who haven't seen it.
I'm not big on this experimental editing style. The story would have gained by having the nihilist gravitas of movies like Night Moves or Point Blank. Still, Soderbergh is a master of his craft and the truth is that The Limey offers a powerful trio of exquisite photography, performance and score.