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Review by Jay Rittenberg

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Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Lem Dobbs
Starring: Terence Stamp, Luis Guzman, Barry Newman, and Peter Fonda

I had a gut feeling that I was going to like The Limey. With acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh (Sex, Lies & Videotape) at the helm, I expected a stylish crime drama along the lines of the recent Mel Gibson vehicle Payback, with shades of Charles Bronson's cult classic Death Wish, and the filmmaker delivers with an engaging, and satisfying thriller - more than an adequate follow-up to his entertaining Out of Sight. Like Out of Sight, which gave ER star George Clooney the silver screen breakthrough he was desperately hoping for, The Limey succeeds thanks to the solid work of the film's lead. Veteran screen actor Terence Stamp is outstanding as the crusty, old, past-his-prime player looking for some good-old-fashioned revenge). Soderbergh's visually pleasing shooting style also contributes, and gives the film its gritty, determined look.

The movie begins as we're introduced to British ex-con Wilson, who's just been handed his permanent furlough from behind bars. This career criminal is a serious man seriously looking for some answers to the mysterious death of his estranged daughter Jenny. He wastes no time catching a bird from London to LA and dons his best Sherlock Holmes hat, as well as securing a good couple of handguns. He's definitely a man on a mission and in one early scene he's not afraid to mix it up with anyone no matter how big and well armed. From the get-go, we are blessed with a taste of this man's relentless focus and know nothing is going to stop him.

Thanks to one of his late daughter's closest friends (solid supporting actor Luis Guzman), it doesn't take long for Wilson to realize that she was the unfortunate victim of some shady drug-dealing operation. He's got his eye on only one man; the person that has to be responsible for her early demise: self-centered, millionaire record producer Terry Valentine (Peter Fonda, who's simply terrific as a sleazy slime ball), who was Jenny's main squeeze and biggest love. Terry's not an easy target to reach, of course, when he's got such an effective right hand man like Avery (Barry Newman), who handles the music tycoon's dirty work. Avery wastes no time in trying to dispatch our crusader with hit man after hit man, but Wilson will let nothing stop him until he gets his man. This sets up an all-too-satisfying scenario for Wilson: a confrontation-not for revenge, but hopefully a resolution.

It's a shame that more people didn't catch Soderbergh's Out of Sight, and it's even a bigger shame that no one saw this stylish, appealing film. Movie patrons missed out on a good-looking film with an Oscar quality type performance from screen veteran Stamp. The film and especially the work of its headliner were simply overshadowed by more commercial and critically acclaimed ventures.

The film, as like most others, does have its share of flaws. Some spots are slow-moving, others simply go nowhere, and some movie buffs might feel bounced around a little too much by a technique of interlacing scenes. Soderbergh's direction is effective here, but these applications wouldn't have worked at all if it weren't for the ultra cool work of Stamp and the ample support given to him by the rest of the cast.

The Limey may be slow paced, but it's done deliberately so that the tension builds. This is less a revenge flick than it is a study of a man whose passed his prime and is looking to regain some control. He desperately needs to find the pieces to a lost puzzle - not just for the memory of his daughter, but for himself. This is what his journey is all about. I enjoyed taking this trip with him and I think you will, too.

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