The Limey Reviews
The music by Cliff Martinez was the reason I decided to watch the film in the first place and then I discovered it was a Soderbergh film. I was pleasantly surprised but quickly lost interest at the film began but continued to the end. Its nice to see this project and to know that within the next few years the artist would make Traffic and Erin Bronkovich. Good job Steven.
Terence Stamp stars as WIlson, the titular character, who is a recently released career criminal who travels to Los Angeles to investigate the death of his estranged daughter, whom he is told died of mysterious circumstances. Besides being about a man who is out for straight up vengeance, and really not much more, it also touches upon the divide between old school criminals like Wilson, and their modern day counterparts.
The film is pretty clear cut, and Soderbergh is maybe one of the few directors who can really get away with such a basic, single minded premise with not much else backing it up. Even though the film doesn't have much depth to it, it oozes style, mood, and tone, and is really rather mesmerizing.
I also liked how the film is a meeting of two titans of 60s cinema, with the British Stamp going up against America's Peter Fonda as the shady record producer Valentine who was involved with Wilson's daughter, and is thus the prime suspect in her "accidental" death. Both are amazing, but this is easily Stamp's film through and through, and a real showcase for him. Luis Guzman is pretty terrific as Ed, an acquaintance of Wilson's daughter, and perhaps the only person he can trust. He's pretty much the guiding light here, as he;s the one who contacted Wilson about his daughter, and provides him basically everything he needs to complete his quest. Barry Newman is also pretty awesome as Avery, Valentine's chief of security. Nicky Katt also makes a brief appearance as a hitman associated with Avery, but he could have been used a little more. He's good for how much we get him, though.
Being a Soderbergh film, it's got a great amount of style, slick production values, and is shot masterfully. Some of the proceedings get rather dark and intense, but thankfully there's a nice undercurrent of sly humor. One of the coolest things going on here is the creative integration of footage from an old Stamp film from the 60s as bits of flashback sequences.
This really isn't a deep film, and while it is pretty cut and dried, and just a variation on a theme, it's somehow gets a pass because Soderbergh just has this touch that elevates even the most unoriginal concept into something fresh and entertaining.