Everything in The Limey (Artisan Entertainment) is presented up-front. There are no surprises. You get exactly what you think you’re going to get.
Using a tight, bare-bones script and an excellent score, Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight) directs the tale of a man with one name, Wilson (Terrence Stamp, Bowfinger). Wilson is out to avenge what he believes was the wrongful death of his daughter, Jenny.
Stamp is an excellent choice for this role. Short and stocky, with electric-blue eyes and iron-gray hair, he personifies strength despite his apparent age. His character respects neither the law nor his own life. He will place himself in any situation and do anything to find out who is responsible for his daughter’s death and the exact details of how she died. The lengths Wilson is willing to go to for his cause will shock the viewer.
After receiving a newspaper article sent to him by Jenny’s friend, Eduardo Roel (Luis Guzman, Out of Sight), Wilson quickly flies to the United States. Wilson was imprisoned for nine years for armed robbery in his native England. He soon learns that music mogul Terry Valentine (Peter Fonda, Ulee’s Gold) is most likely responsible for his daughter’s death.
Working up from Terry’s underlings, Wilson quickly gains much needed information while overcoming all obstacles that stand between him and Terry. At one point, Wilson has the option to kill Terry fairly quickly, but opts not to. It is not enough for Wilson to take Terry’s life. Terry must know why Wilson is taking it.
A movie of this nature does not give the viewer much characterization. The audience only learns the most essential facts about all of the characters. Every scene exists to get to the next scene. There is nothing extra. Although The Limey clocks in at 95 minutes, a refreshing change in the recent trend of lengthy film making, its brevity does not necessarily add to its entertainment value. In the end, it feels longer than it actually is.
Midway through, Terry’s right-hand man hires a hitman, Casey, to kill Wilson. Although entertaining, this character does not quite jive with the rest of the film. Specifically, his tone, looks and entire personality does not fit in with the other actors. This character is inserted into the film to tie up any loose ends.
On the flip side, the writers of The Limey definitely deserve credit for not falling into the popular trap of giving Wilson a love interest. Jenny’s music teacher (Leslie Anne Warren, Twin Falls Idaho), who provides Wilson with important information, definitely has potential to be Wilson’s romantic interest. Any intelligent viewer will realize that Wilson has no time for a tryst and that it would be counterproductive toward his goal. It would be an insult to the viewer if Wilson’s character caved at the sight of an attractive woman, and it also would have detracted from the film.
The Limey is an entertaining film, filled with above-average cinematography and some interesting camera shots. Unfortunately, the ending of the film is a cop-out. Viewers undoubtedly will be disappointed with the anti-climatic and ridiculous change in Wilson’s character.