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out of sight director steven sorderbergh baffles the hell out of us all in the limey , a cold , uninvolving , confusing new thriller .
though the plot description may at first seem like it came from the pen of elmore leonard ( author of out of sight , as well as jackie brown , get shorty and pulp fiction ) , after you watch it , you realize that it's not nearly good enough .
in an aggressively non-linear fashion , the limey ( li * mey , noun : an english gentleman ) tells the story of wilson ( terrence stamp ) , a british ex-con just released from a 9 year stint in prison for armed robbery .
he has come to the us to seek vengeance for the death of his daughter jenny .
he doesn't know much about the circumstances of her demise , all he has is a name : terry valentine .
valentine was jenny's former boyfriend , a wealthy and corrupt record executive .
he's played by peter fonda , in his first major role since the terrific ulee's gold in 1997 .
seeking valentine's reclusive place of residence turns out to be no easy task for wilson .
he finally finds the impressive abode high in the mountains and sneaks in just as valentine is having a big party .
he winds up breaking his cover eventually , setting off valentine's head of security and valentine himself , who decides to run for it .
what a mess .
i have no problem when films refuse to be constricted by the linearity of time -- pulp fiction , which twisted time every which way , was a masterpiece -- but i do take exception to movies that decide to play around with it for no reason other than to confuse the viewer .
the limey does exactly that .
the plot is permeated with flashbacks , flash-forwards and what can only be described as random time-travel , without any evident purpose .
there is no method to this movie's madness .
it uses a fancy way to tell a story that would be better off told more conventionally and more comprehendably .
the plot isn't particularly interesting in the first place : traditional , mildly hackneyed and not very involving .
this is a sort of brooding film -- our protagonist doesn't speak much and the action sequences are done with an annoyingly perfunctory attitude .
i felt like the director wasn't very interested in the proceedings himself , almost like he made this film for a paycheck .
ditto for the editing , which seems to be deliberately sloppy and unpleasant .
sixties icon terrence stamp manages to at least be menacing as the aging criminal .
he's not much in the way of stature but he has a surprisingly imposing physical presence that works to his advantage here .
peter fonda is an unbelievably underrated actor : he's shy , quiet but always effective .
he's adept at conveying emotions through speech rather than expression : his feelings don't always show on his face by you can always tell what they are .
this is basically a conventional thriller told in a pretentiously bizarre fashion .
why soderbergh couldn't just parrot down and tell a story , i don't know , but what he does do certainly doesn't work .
the result is a wild cornucopia of images that amount to precisely nil -- even the action scenes don't work .
1999 may have signified the death of the traditional act one - act two - act three storyline , but obviously some movies have not yet transcended it .
shall we go back to basics ?