Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steven Soderbergh|
|Produced by||John Hardy
|Written by||Lem Dobbs|
Lesley Ann Warren
|Music by||Cliff Martinez|
|Editing by||Sarah Flack|
|Distributed by||Artisan Entertainment|
|Running time||89 minutes|
It was filmed on location in L.A. and Big Sur.
Wilson (Stamp), recently released from a British prison, travels to Los Angeles to investigate the death of his daughter Jenny, who is reported to have died in a car accident. While adjusting to the United States, he finds allies in Jenny's friends Eduardo (Guzmán) and Elaine (Warren) and comes up with a suspect: Jenny's boyfriend Terry Valentine (Fonda), a record producer. Valentine has connections with drug trafficking through his security consultant Avery (Newman). After locating the warehouse of the drug importer with whom Avery had done business and retrieving Valentine's home address, Wilson is overpowered and beaten by the drug trafficker's thugs, who also insult his daughter's name. After he is thrown out, Wilson retrieves a back-up pistol, goes back and kills all but one of the employees, shouting at the last to "Tell him I'm coming!" The employee relays this threat to Avery who reports it to Valentine.
Wilson reminisces with Elaine and Eduardo about his past relationship with his daughter, whom he only remembers as a child. As he recalls, Jenny always threatened to call the police when she found her father had committed crimes. He states she did not because she truly loved him. His criminal life put strain on his wife and child, but they never left him. He ended up in prison after the thieves he was associated with confessed to his involvement in their crimes.
Wilson and Eduardo infiltrate a party at Valentine's house, where Wilson searches for evidence. He finds and steals a picture of Jenny. Attracting suspicion from Avery, Wilson is accosted by a guard, who Wilson then throws over a ledge, killing him. Wilson and Eduardo flee, and are chased by Avery who shoots at them with a shotgun. Wilson rams Avery's car into a ditch and he and Eduardo escape, but not before Eduardo makes the mistake of calling out Wilson's name within Avery's hearing. Afterward, Avery hires a hit-man named Stacy (Katt), who tracks down Wilson and Elaine. DEA agents prevent the attempted killing, and escort Wilson and Elaine to meet a DEA agent who is investigating Valentine. After the meeting it is clear the agent will not interfere with Wilson. Stacy and his partner then plot a double cross on Avery and Valentine.
Avery moves Valentine and his girlfriend to a safe house in Big Sur, with Wilson following them. That night, Avery's guards shoot an intruder, who is revealed to be Stacy. Avery and the guards engage in a shootout with Stacy's partner, resulting in several deaths. Valentine flees to the beach with Wilson in pursuit. After he falls and breaks his ankle on the rocks, Valentine admits that Jenny found out about his drug business, picked up the telephone, and threatened to call the police. Attempting to restrain her, he accidentally broke her neck. Avery then staged her death as a car accident. Wilson is haunted, knowing that Jenny would never have turned Valentine in, because (as a twelve-year-old girl) she had used the very same bluff on her father. Wilson decides to return to London, saying goodbye to Elaine and Eduardo.
The narrative structure of the film is presented in disjointed flashbacks by Wilson during the plane trip home.
- Terence Stamp as Wilson
- Lesley Ann Warren as Elaine
- Luis Guzmán as Eduardo Roel
- Barry Newman as Jim Avery
- Joe Dallesandro as Uncle John
- Nicky Katt as Stacy, the Hitman
- Peter Fonda as Terry Valentine
- Amelia Heinle as Adhara
- Melissa George as Jennifer 'Jenny' Wilson
- William Lucking as Warehouse Foreman
- Steve Heinze as Larry (Valentine's Bodyguard)
- Nancy Lenehan as Lady on plane
- Bill Duke as DEA Commanding Officer
Steven Soderbergh uses an atypical flashback sequence. It includes scenes from another Terence Stamp movie, Ken Loach's 1967 directorial debut Poor Cow. Soderbergh uses the scene to create a hazy back story. Wilson often speaks in a Cockney rhyming slang. The title refers to the American slang Limey, which refers to Britons.
Film editor Sarah Flack utilizes a variety of unorthodox editing techniques in The Limey. The film frequently features dialogue and background sound from previous or future scenes juxtaposed with a current scene. Dialogue from one conversation, for instance, may find itself dispersed throughout the film, articulated for the first time long after its chronological moment has passed, as a sort of narrative flashback superimposed over later conversation, to complete a character's thought or punctuate a character's emphasis. Background sound may be disjointed in the film and shifted to enhance another scene by suggesting continuation, similarity, or dissimilarity, For example, Wilson is in a hotel room, and turns on the shower, and Wilson is in a plane looking out the window, and the shower can be heard.
The Limey was first presented at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival on May 15. It was also featured at the Toronto Film Festival, the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, and the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
A limited release in the US began on October 8, 1999 and did poorly at the box office. Its first week's gross was $187,122 (17 screens) and the total receipts for the run were $3,193,102. The film was in wide release for seventeen weeks (115 days), and was shown in 105 theaters.
Critical response 
Edward Guthmann, film critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, praised the direction, and film's screenplay, and wrote, "The Limey...is a first-rate crime thriller and further proof that Soderbergh is one of our great contemporary film stylists. Taut, imaginative and complex, this is one of the best American films of the year and a wonderful antidote to the numbing sameness of [some] movies." Critic Janet Maslin wrote of Terence Stamp's work, "Stamp plays the title role furiously, with single-minded intensity, wild blue eyes and a stentorian roar shown off in the film's early moments...Glimpses of young, dreamily beautiful Stamp and his no less imposing latter-day presence are used by Soderbergh with touching efficacy."
The film critic for Variety magazine, Emanuel Levy, lauded the crime drama and liked the direction of the picture, the acting, and the screenplay, yet thought the film "lacks secondary characters and subplots." He wrote, "The Limey, Steven Soderbergh's new crime picture, continues the helmer's artistic renewal, evident last year in the superbly realized "Out of Sight." Pic's most interesting element is the positioning of two icons of 1960s cinema, the very British Terence Stamp and the very American Peter Fonda, as longtime enemies in what's basically a routine revenge thriller...[and] one has no problem praising the bravura acting of the entire ensemble and the pic's impressive technical aspects. Warren, Guzman and Barry Newman give maturely restrained performances in line with the film's dominant texture. A supporting turn by Joe Dallessandro, Andy Warhol's and Paul Morrissey's regular, accentuates pic's reflexive nature as a commentary on a bygone era of filmmaking."
- Satellite Awards: Golden Satellite Award; Best Drama Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Terence Stamp; 2000.
- Box Office Mojo web site.
- Ebert, Roger. Chicago Sun-Times, film review, October 8, 1999.
- "Festival de Cannes: The Limey". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
- Box Office Mojo. Last accessed: November 28, 2009.
- The Numbers box office data. Last accessed: December 4, 2007.
- The Limey at Rotten Tomatoes. Last accessed: November 13, 2011.
- Guthmann, Edward. The San Francisco Chronicle, film review, page C-3, October 8, 1999.
- Maslin, Janet. The New York Times, Art Section, "The Limey: Touring Show-Business Royalty and Its Underworld," film review, October 8, 1999. Last accessed: December 25, 2007.
- Levy, Emanuel. Variety, film review, May 18, 1999. Last accessed: December 25, 2007.
- The Limey at the Internet Movie Database
- The Limey essay comparing the film to The Third Man by Dan Schneider at Retort Magazine
- The Limey trailer at YouTube