Something pretty constant in life is that old age pensioners, no matter how irritating, are never going to really bother you. Nag you? Maybe. Shake their walking stick menacingly? Perhaps. But nothing physical. Comfortable with this assessment? If so, avoid The Limey.
The old-timer in question is Wilson (Terence Stamp), a 60-something career criminal finishing his latest gaol stint for armed robbery. Shortly before release, he learns of the mysterious death of his daughter Jennie – killed in a car accident in Los Angeles. Suspicious, he gets on the first plane to find who is really responsible – a short trail leading to has-been record producer Valentine (a suitably sleazy Peter Fonda, having already replaced Jennie with a new starlet), who just so happens to have dipped into criminal activity himself.
Whilst the script is a little thin in places, there is much to make up for it. With the help of Jennie’s acting friends Ed (Luis Guzman) and Elaine (Lesley Ann Warren) Wilson finds his man well within the first hour but prolongs the inevitable retribution – “he has to know why”. The upside to this extension is watching various thugs and lowlifes dispatched without mercy, all the while looking similar to the cyborg in Terminator 2. Valentine, still unawares as to the motives of his pursuer, becomes more and more vulnerable as his protectors – even the seriously sneaky Avery (Barry Newman) – are picked off one by one.
Director Soderbergh fills in a few gaps. Repeated flashbacks to Jennie growing up give Wilson an all too vivid reminder of the years he has missed in her life, helping to give the character depth. Grainy footage of Stamp from Ken Loach’s 1967 ‘Poor Cow’ give an added realism, at the cost of choppy camerawork, which definitely will not appeal to all.
Stamp – freshly escaped from ‘The Phantom Menace’ – is in fine form. A scene early on, where he deals with patronising Americans (“come on, this guy’s from a place the size of Wisconsin”) will have some on this side of the Atlantic cheering in their seats.
But ‘The Limey’ never preaches. Its message? Nobody’s perfect. Enjoy it for what it is. And look out for the appearance of “Angel” from ‘Home & Away’. Hey, at least she hasn’t put out an album (yet).