Steven Soderberg's lack of box office success remains a mystery, and something that bothers me. Why aren't people going out to see this guy's films? "Out Of Sight" might have been mis-marketed, but it was impressively well-done. "The Limey" is just as good, but certainly a film different in tone. Although it doesn't have the funky energy that flowed through "Out Of Sight", "The Limey" has an intensity and style that's riveting.
Something I can't stand is extending scenes beyond their borders. Soderberg cuts everything down to the basics for "The Limey" - boom, boom, boom - everything comes right down to the point. Terrence Stamp plays Dave Wilson, an ex-con on his way to California to find out what happened to his daughter - he seeks revenge on the man who he thinks was responsible for her death, Valentine(Peter Fonda), a record producer who spends his days in his gorgeous house atop a hill. Wilson is similar to Mel Gibson's Porter from "Payback"; there is nothing else besides the task at hand.
Soderberg's direction and the cinematography of Edward Lachman("Why Do Fools Fall In Love", Soderberg's new "Erin Brokovich") pulls us right into every scene. Rather than feel like a distant spectator, we feel as if we're right there - a part of each scene. Stamp's performance is a marvelous one. His Dave Wilson is not only incredibly menacing, but deeply intense - this guy means business. The way that the film plays with time is occasionally a little too much - it could have been a little smoother had it played out in a more conventional fashion, but it didn't bother me enough to take me out of the movie. Tone and atmosphere are built wonderfully, and although it seems a little long at points, I still found the film very enjoyable.
VIDEO: Artisan scores again with an outstanding 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer for "The Limey" - images are perfectly sharp with excellent detail, and flaws are absolutely so minor as to be a non-issue. Colors are natural and nicely saturated with no problems whatsoever. Flesh tones are natural and accurate, as well.
Again, there are some minor little flaws here and there, but they definitely didn't distract or take away from watching the movie. A little shimmer a couple times is really about it - there are no instances of marks on the print used, which is absolutely crystal clear. The film was shot around Los Angeles, and looks great - definitely high marks for the image quality.
SOUND: "The Limey" really has a great soundtrack of classic tunes that the audio does an impressive job of delivering - the music invades the room nicely, sounding great and enveloping the viewer. Beyond that though, the movie really is very dialogue-driven. I still liked the presentation though, and found the audio to be very enjoyable. Dialogue is very clean, clear and natural.
MENUS:: Although some found fault with the "Blair Witch" menus and their ability to be easily read, I still enjoyed them. They've been improving greatly, though and I now consider some of their recent menus like "Stir Of Echoes" to be some of the best - menus that are not only cool, but really get the tone of the movie down perfectly. "The Limey" is another great job from Artisan - an energetic clip from the movie leads us into an animated menu with the score playing in the background.
Commentary: A very informative and enjoyable commentary from director Steven Soderberg and writer Lem Dobbs. The two of them discuss the process of not only filmmaking and screenwriting, but also the details of the history of the making of the movie. Their discussion of the history includes much of the original thoughts about where to take the story in terms of style and how to tell the story instead of the usual conventional manner.
There are also some very interesting technical details that Soderberg shares. He goes into detail early on in the commentary about his choice to shoot with "available light", as well as how he and his cinematographer work together to achieve the style and energy apparent in a film like this one. They also frequently add in points about where scenes were shot, and give more information about the locations.
What I liked about this commentary(as well as Soderberg's "Out Of Sight" commentary) is not only that it's very conversational in style, but because the two people involved here are very honest in their feelings, with Dobbs and Soderberg actually slightly arguing for several minutes a couple times throughout the commentary about some points towards whether the film works or not, which is really quite cool to listen to.
It's a very good commentary, and I liked how freely both shared their views on what worked and what didn't. Although there are some slight pauses here and there, the pauses never become distracting - they also talk throughout the credits.
Commentary 2: This is a 60's "docu-commentary", with tons of people from the movie contributing their thoughts on the production. On this commentary are Terrence Stamp, Peter Fonda, Lesley Ann Warren, Barry Newman, Joe Dallesandro and additional comments from both Soderberg and Dobbs. This commentary gives equal time for the actors to reflect on their roles and memories of making of the film, as well as remembering history of the 60's.
Especially interesting are comments from Stamp, who talks about his life growing up in Britain in the 60's, and all of the developments that were happening there at the time with things such as music. Stamp also comments on his character in "The Limey", analyzing his character with great detail, looking through all of the layers. Peter Fonda does the same, talking about the layers of the role and how he played the character - he also contributes some very interesting details about how he worked with Soderberg on a scene.
Stamp and Fonda contribute the most to the discussion. Although their comments don't always focus on the film at hand, I still found them interesting to listen to as they chatted about their history - there are plenty of points where Fonda is fun and funny to listen to, but he also has many comments about the history that are amazing to hear about. Dobbs also has quite a few comments on the 60's to offer throughout the discussion.
This commentary does tend to go many different ways at times, but I think it's a treat to listen to these actors - Fonda and Stamp not only analyze their characters to perfection, they give us a strong picture of 60's history and culture.
Technical Specifications: This is a wonderful section that lets us in on all of the details on how this DVD was made, such as the fact that Soderberg and his cinematographer supervised the transfer as the Sony Pictures DVD Center, because they were happy with the work that Sony did with Soderberg's "Sex, Lies and Videotape". The text notes about the audio and video end with a page of comments from Larry Blake, who was the supervising sound editor & re-recording mixer for "The Limey", whose notes summarize the work done for the DVD release.
Beyond that is a section that is even cooler. There is an additional section in the "technical" section that goes into pros of anamorphic widescreen, and even gives viewers a chance to compare a clip from "The Limey" in anamorphic and non-anamorphic. The only problem I had was that I found some of the text notes slightly hard to read. I think this is such a cool feature ,though, that I didn't mind.
Trailers: The film's theatrical trailer and 2 TV Spots.
Also: And finally, production notes, lots of cast/crew bios and the isolated score(2.0).
Final Thoughts: I liked the movie (especially the performances by Stamp and Fonda) and the DVD presents the film extremely well. Great image quality and very good audio quality, along with two commentaries that are different in nature, but both have a lot to offer. The technical details section is also a very neat addition. I'm definitely going to recommend the dvd for "The Limey."
The Film B+
Video 95/A = (380/400 possible points)
Audio 89/B+ = (356/400 possible points)
Extras 93/A = (279/300 possible points)
Menus 90/A- = (180/200 possible points)
Value 90/A- = (270/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: B+
DVD GRADE: A