The Limey Reviews
Even though the set up for The Limey is essentially a revenge flick Soderbergh does a great job in this film rounding out the characters and making it a step above a simple minded revenge flick. And this difference comes in large part due to a lot of the editing choices that were made during the making of this film. Through the editing Soderbergh is able to make the characters more dense and multi faceted than would normally be expected in a film like this. These choices ultimately hurt the films commercial success as it did poorly in the box office. However, it was a great success artistically and was given rave reviews by a multitude of critics.
Right from the start of the film Soderbergh makes a lot of interesting editing choices stylistically. And in different parts of the film there are moments when the editing tells the story in a very jumbled and disorganized fashion and then will go right back to a more linear approach. There is one moment in the film when Wilson is at a party this is significant because at the party Wilson encounters Terry Valentine for the first time, who he believes to be the person responsible for his daughter's death. This is one of the few times in the film where Wilson does not show control and instead of being calm and calculated he lets his emotions get the better of him for a moment. In the scene Wilson sees Terry across the room and starts to walk towards him. in his mind he walks towards him slowly lift up the gun he has with him and shoots Terry. He does the exact motion to the finest detail when he raises his gun in all of these daydreams so even in a moment when Wilson has supposedly lost control he is still very precise and professional. This exactness of Wilson is made even clearer because Terry does not have the same reaction in each vision when he is shot. Before he can actually reach Terry for real and act out his vengeance Eduardo comes up and stops him. Wilson later says that it is better that he didn't do it because it would have been too easy but if Eduardo would not have stopped him there is no doubt in my mind Wilson would have just gone through with it right there. The way these scenes are shot gives a great window into the clear-cut mentality of our anti-hero. At this point in the film revenge is very black and white for Wilson. He is determined that this is the man that is to blame for his daughters death so the only way that equation ends is with Terry's death.
There is another scene that uses very curious but clearly deliberated editing. I'm not positive what the purpose is for the editing but there is definitely something here. Later in the movie Wilson after being taken in by some police agents and gets taken to the man in charge. When he gets there the man questions him and in response Wilson gives a short analogy. In his story he talks about revenge and how he could have had revenge on someone after he got out of jail but once he got the opportunity he realized that it wasn't as important as he once thought and it wasn't what he wanted anymore and ends with talking about choices and the importance of the choices we make. This speech is very important because it draws a lot of comparisons to what Wilson goes through in this film. He feels like what he wants more than anything else in revenge for his daughter's death but when he finds out more he is not so sure what he wants by the end. To help accentuate this point in the speech to the viewer to make sure it is picked up as something that is important Soderbergh makes some interesting editing choices. During the speech it cuts between several different shots back and forth that give Wilson different framing. All of the shots are lower angle or close up both giving Wilson a more commanding presence in the frame. It helps bring attention to this scene outside of just any other average scene but in a very odd way for the viewer. All of the abrupt cuts almost make the scene seem surreal almost as if this were something that Wilson had come to realize or think of at this moment without actually telling anyone. This could be possible seeing as later in the film Eduardo mentions the fact that he never understands what Wilson says to which another character responds but I understand what he means. The editing helps the viewer key in on this moment and realize that it is a crucial moment in the film. It also brings up the idea of revenge again but instead of Wilson being blinded by it he looks at it in a more passive and understanding way starting to see how it can be in more of a gray area.
The theme of revenge comes back into play all through the film. More than just revenge the idea that revenge ultimately does not fix anything. All through the film Wilson paves a seemingly unstoppable path fueled by his undying need to avenge his daughters death and bring justice to her. But by the end of the film his strong determination towards revenge falters and he isn't as sure as he was in the beginning. His change is not drastic or even obviously noticeable, even after he makes this realization he still keeps his overtly stoic demeanor. However I feel it is even more profound and realistic to his character that he doesn't make some over the top life change he just has a moment of realization at the end and reacts to it. And I think there is a lot to that. That is a big moment for that character he realizes that not everything can be answered with violence and brute force sometimes things happen that cannot be simply fixed.
God bless Terence Stamp though.
I like revenge movies, and this is one really well done.