The Limey

The Limey

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The secret of film noir is to be stylish and Steven Soderbergh is certainly that. His camera tricks and time shuffling give the movie a look that is so seductive you feel that you are watching something rather exceptional. Two things blow the director's cover. Lem Dobbs's script is chrome-plated - flashy dialogue and a storyline that goes off the rails. Terence Stamp, as Wilson, an old lag who comes to LA to avenge the death of his daughter, is wood.

Soderbergh uses clips from Ken Loach's Poor Cow, in which Stamp plays a young crook, also called Wilson, for the occasional biog flashback. In those days, he had the lithe grace of a Sixties sex symbol, which is what he was, although now has lost the rhythm in his legs, speaks like a ventriloquist's dummy and keeps staring into space as if waiting for the tax police. By comparison, Peter Fonda is oiled and tested, but then he's playing a record producer, still pulling chicks on the cachet of a faded reputation.

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On arrival in California, Wilson behaves like a demented ostrich. You would have thought that with his experience of villains, he would not barge into their manor, shouting the odds. He should have been dead within 12 hours of touchdown. Instead, he goes on a shooting spree, gatecrashes one of Peter's parties, allows an emotionally dysfunctional lady (Lesley Ann Warren) to tag along and explains Cockney rhyming slang to the Americans.

Soderbergh is hoping for a cult following with this one. It has the cinematic shorthand and jump cuts that indicate trend-setting pretensions. It also has a shootout to match Hamlet, not to mention Fonda cuddling a girl younger than Bridget. Old habits, right?

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Terence Stamp is an old lag, out to avenge his daughter's death.
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