For the production of "The Limey," director Steven Sodenburgh came up with a brand new way of creating believable flashbacks:
Rent all of your lead actor's former movies.
Find some clips in one movie that look good.
Give your lead character the exact same name used in the other film.
Buy the rights to the movie and presto - a ready-made flashback with an actor who looks exactly like the new star only much, much younger.
Why no one else thought of this is unknown, for it works extremely well. In both "The Limey" and "Poor Cow," Terence Stamp portrays Wilson, an English Cockney criminal with a daughter who distances herself from him.
In the 1960s, he is a young, wild man too busy living the high life to pay attention to his child. The little girl in "Poor Cow" can only helplessly watch her father slump lower and lower until he lands himself in prison.
In 1999, Wilson is finally released and must travel to Los Angeles to avenge his daughter's recent murder.
Both periods are expertly acted by Stamp, perhaps familiar to college students through his portrayal of the evil General Zod in "Superman" and "Superman II" as well as his recent cameo in "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace."
Stamp plays present day Wilson as an uncultured and uneducated man. He does not want money or fame or even vengeance for the time he was locked away. He simply wants to investigate his daughter's death and make the murderer pay for her pain.
Stamp is a very tough man, but age is beginning to catch up with him. He makes his character so menacing that the audience believes him capable of murder, but when seen walking down a street in slow motion, the slightly hunched shoulders and the stiffness in his stride can't help but stand out.
The genius of this movie is in the casting. One of the themes of the film is to explore the lives of people still trying to exist in a time gone by. The stars, Stamp and Peter Fonda, were both major players in the 1960s counterculture movement, and both these men have been characterized by their activities and roles in that decade. In some respects, they haven't been able to leave those personas. And having them play aging men grasping on to older ideals really works.
Sodenburgh uses a very distinctive style of editing for this movie. Like his "Out of Sight," "The Limey" would stick out due to its cutting style, even if it was horrible in every other respect. The main technique was often during speeches, where images of the actors at different stages in the movie - and in life in the case of Stamp - would flash by. The style seems jarring while the movie plays, but in retrospect, it houses the story well.
Due to its lesser known cast and more somber tone, "The Limey" will probably not make as much money as "Out of Sight." But with its innovative techniques, Sodenburgh's latest movie is guaranteed to leave a much greater impact on future filmmaking than the other ever will.