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After finishing out his second stint in prison after 9 long years, an
Englishman named Wilson learns that his estranged daughter Jenny has
died in a car accident in Los Angeles. The newspapers say simply that
the car went off a cliff, but her death looks pretty suspicious to all
who knew her. Wilson flies out to L.A. in search of her killer, where he
meets up with two of Jenny's friends, Eddie and Elaine. Soon, Wilson's
hunting down the man he's certain is responsible for Jenny's death, a
guy named Terry Valentine who Jenny was living with at the time. Terry's
a slick music producer who made a killing promoting the California sound
back in the 60s, and if his glitzy lifestyle and ever-charming toothy
smile make him seem the complete antithesis of rough-around-the-edges
Wilson, that's only on the surface. Both men are of the same generation
for whom the 60s were really the heyday, and as it turns out, both also
lead a life of crime. And then there's Jenny connecting them as well.
Determined to get at the heart of what happened to his daughter, and to
make Terry pay for what he's done, Wilson lets Terry know that he's
coming for him -- and that no number of bodyguards or hired killers are
going to get in his way.
On its surface, The Limey looks like your standard Hollywood
revenge flick, the stuff of which countless B-movies have been made.
Soon into this movie, however, you start to notice that you feel a
little off-kilter watching it. The dialogue you're hearing pushes the
story forward, but the images keep taking you from past to future to
completely imaginary. There's a weird disjointedness between what you
see, what you hear, and what you think you know; slowly, what you sort
of sense is that you're not so much in the purely present as in Wilson's
head, where memory and the here and now struggle to be reconciled.
Soderbergh weaves all these images together so beautifully that it
actually makes perfect sense as long as you just let the visuals wash
over you rather than fight to put all the pieces together in clear
linear order -- they gradually build up into something that feels far
richer than just the simple plotline would suggest. The Limey's
really a character drama dressed-up in action garb, which might make it
a disappointment for anyone expecting rapid-fire, shoot-em-up
entertainment. Much of the action actually takes place off-screen; you
hear the shots without actually seeing the gun. What Soderbergh's
interested in isn't so much what his characters are doing or saying, but
in what they're thinking and feeling. One of the running jokes in The
Limey -- which has many a pretty funny scene mixed in with the
artsy-fartsy drama -- is that no one in L.A. can understand a word of
Wilson's Cockney-slang-peppered speech. When Luiz Guzman's Eddie asks
Lesley Ann Warren's Elaine if she understands even half of what Wilson
says, she replies, "No, but I know what he means." Which is
precisely how I felt watching The Limey; when those end credits
roll, you'd be hard-pressed to describe what exactly it is you've just
seen -- a father-daughter flick? an aging criminals tale? or what? All
you know for certain is that the movie works, and that this was 89
minutes of your time well spent. —reviewed
by Yee-Fan Sun
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