Thursday, 25 March 2010

No.21 : The Limey



If you are going to upset someone you’d better first check that it’s not Terence Stamp’s character Wilson who’s as mental as a sack of frogs and not shy of spilling the claret either.

We meet up with Wilson as he arrives in Los Angeles looking for answers about his daughter’s death - think of it as ‘Get Carter’ in the sunshine. He quickly hooks up with Luis Guzman’s able stooge who had written to Wilson letting him know of his daughter’s mysterious death. Wilson is fresh out of jail after stealing the gate receipts for a Pink Floyd concert - must have been pay at the door in those days.

After no detective work at all the dynamic duo head to a back street lot where they know shady dealings go on. Wilson manages to get a name and then a right good kicking but not one to bear grudges he marches back in and slaughters everyone apart from a boy left alive to spread the word.

Next stop is the luxurious home of playboy record producer Peter Fonda who is having a party where no invites are needed. Stamp has a good butcher’s around and tosses a guard off a cliff for good measure but saves the coup de gras for another day as “it’d be too easy” - good work ethic there.

Fonda’s security man gives chase and after a scrap where we loses his Beamer he enlists some pool hall hustlers to take down our man. The deed is of course botched and Stamp is saved by some rogue DEA agents who are happy to see the villains , including drug money launderer Fonda, get theirs anyway they can.

With all the interested parties heading down the coast for a big shoot out we soon find out if revenge is best served cold or with a nice Bordeaux.

This is another film that I’d seen before but had retained almost no memory of - that Windowlene drinking craze of my early 30’s has a lot to answer for! I was glad I revisited it on behalf of this project as I really enjoyed it.

I think first time around I disliked Stamp’s almost Viz like portrayal of an Englishman abroad; all Cockney rhyming slang and wide boyness but this time it came across as a lot of fun although not exactly convincing. For a start he keeps on saying “china - china plate = mate” which seems a lot of work over just saying ‘mate’. They do play on it though with the rest of the cast all bemused at his every utterance. “there’s just one thing I don’t understand” say a cop “Every fuckin’ word that came out your mouth”.

The plot is a straightforward revenge thriller but director Steven Soderbergh does well to keep the interest level high by flirting back and forth as the characters speak showing scenes from their past and more tellingly their futures. I think the idea is that they are on paths already set with no chance to change and you see this is the case with the final shots.

I also liked that they used footage from the film ‘Poor Cow’ to show a younger Stamp with his daughter - certainly beats a bad wig or ropey CGI. The film is undeniably Stamp's with a real powerhouse showing throughout. Pass marks are also won by Guzman’s willing and strangely motivated helper and Peter Fonda who does a great sleazebag when he wants to, which seems to be always.

There are not too many surprises or big set pieces and you get the idea they could have shot the film in a couple of days given the lack of elaborate sets or costumes and the sometimes wobbly cameras. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as you get a fast paced, engaging thriller that has equal laughs and shocks.

THE Tag Line : Make Miney A Limey! 73%

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