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The Limey – Best Buy Exclusive Steelbook (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Its been in the works for a little while now, but Steven Soderbergh’s 1999 film The Limey will be making the jump from DVD straight to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. On demand from many a film enthusiast and collector, the film received a 4K digital release a year or so ago and back in February word came that a disc was on the way. For it initial release, it will be coming out as a Best Buy exclusive and have a nifty collectible steelbook packaging. Extras include two commentaries and an isolated score track (Which were all featured on the original DVD release). The release date for The Limey is October 11th only at Best Buy.

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Film

The Limey follows Wilson (Terence Stamp), a tough English ex-con who travels to Los Angeles to avenge his daughter’s death. Upon arrival, Wilson goes to task battling Valentine (Peter Fonda) and an army of L.A.’s toughest criminals, hoping to find clues and piece together what happened. After surviving a near-death beating, getting thrown from a building and being chased down a dangerous mountain road, the Englishman decides to dole out some bodily harm of his own.

Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey is a thrilling, fun adventure into the world of hunting people down, kicking ass and taking names all for the love of taking revenge. Its a film with low budget frills and high end artistic craft that makes you scream out “cinema!” as you watch it unfold. Soderbergh makes a film that full utilizes the art form, demanding your attention and utilizes a blend of screenwriting, performance, cinematography and editing to tell his story to a high functioning degree that almost feels like it wouldn’t be allowed today.

Today, if the script for The Limey were to be made, it would probably be cultivated into one of those John Wick-style action flicks. A film that people would decry “Terrence Stamp gets his John Wick!”. While I love those films, you can tell these stories in different and even more interesting fashions as witnessed here (And more recently in movies like You Were Never Really Here). Instead, Soderbergh opts to subvert your expectations, with more creative (And a lot of the times, distanced) ways of showcasing action or murder. His intensity also doesn’t directly come from a confrontation or from a action, he’s expertly edited the film in a way to keep you on your toes and push you to some eagerness to see what is happening.

While Stamp absolutely kills it here, and both Fonda and Newman are barrels of fun – Soderbergh is the star of this movie. His creative direction is one thing, but the outside masterful editing on display that was just mentioned is more the key element to make this film stand out from a pack and become unforgettable. I’m not sure where in the process he figured this out, but the story is ever more engaging, thrilling and digestible in the way he presents it. He cuts all over the place, but what he’s able to do in those random spots is give you foreshadowing, flashbacks, reminders, clues, motivations and some essential deliveries of lines but with a different image and emotion to the person’s face when saying it. There aren’t a whole lot of movies brave enough and successful enough to execute like this. But, Soderbergh is a master craftsman and one of the best experimental and students of the technical arts of filmmaking we’ve ever seen.

One of Steven Soderbergh’s finest hours (some might say finest of all), The Limey comes in a real hot spot of the filmmaker having a run at films bother artistically and commercially viable. 1999 is a year heralded as one of the best in film history and he provides one of its best contributions. It came between Out of Sight and Erin Brockovich for him and is probably the most unique and impressive of 3 impressive films. The lack of a Blu-ray release and last having been seen on DVD in 2001 probably has weakened its relevance in film buff conversations, but this one probably should be held up much higher by the film culture at large. Its incredible and dare I say a complete masterwork in all aspects in the craft of filmmaking by one of our best living directors.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review from the standard Blu-ray, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail The Limey debuts on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with an excellent 4K transfer that really details some finer information in the picture. Its also much more crisp and clear with a healthy layer of grain intact that is such a breath of fresh air compared to a more noisy, compressed DVD presentation. Great color saturation and black levels prop up this picture for a full on excellent experience.

Depth: Depth of field really helps accentuate the intimacy and cramped nature of the interior sequences and scale of the exteriors that feels quite bigger than they might actually be. Movement is smooth and natural with no issues coming from rapid action or camera movements causing jitter or blur.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural and provide excellent contrast to really bring out the color scheme as well as intricate details in the frame. There’s a nighttime scene with Peter Fonda and Barry Newman that looks incredible to the eye and almost a heightened reality with how clear and romantic it almost is. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite natural with a good bold touches to them. Cigarette cherries and fire really bounce off the screen with the implementation of HDR as do neon signs, car lights and displays. Its well saturated and helps showcase a more gorgeous image than previously found on the DVD (obviously).

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures look clear as day as you can make out stubble, dried and wet blood, dirt, makeup touches, lip texture, wrinkles, moles, freckles and more clear as day.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, Isolated Score Track

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The Limey arrives with a very effective 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track. Its pretty well mixed that allows the vocals to be the star of the mix but always feel part of their environment. Special effects like gunshots or punches and kicks will jump on to help startle or make you go “ouch”. There’s a punch in the film that is a brilliant piece of sound design and editing that feels like Terrence Stamp really got hit hard and this mix delivers it perfectly. The music and score also takes front and center when called upon and sounds quite lovely and airy with space to breathe. Everything is neatly balanced and woven through for the best experience.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Subwoofer comes in effectively on punches, kicks, fire roaring, gunfire, engines humming and adds a nice bump to bass and drums in the songs/score in the film.

Surround Sound Presentation: A lot of this film’s big moments are focused up front but its not like the rear channels are an after thought. They do great at building ambiance, reflecting off screen action and helping travel across the room go effectively.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

The Limey comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code. It is currently a Best Buy exclusive release coming in collectible steelbook packaging. The trailer, tv spots and production notes found on the previous DVD edition did not carry over to this release.

Audio Commentary

  • with director Steven Soderbergh and writer Lem Dobbs
  • with Steven Soderbergh, Lem Dobbs, and actors Peter Fonda, Terence Stamp, Barry Newman, and Lesley Ann Warren

Isolated Score

Summary

Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey is damn near as perfect a film as they come. Lionsgate’s Best Buy exclusive Steelbook 4K release has a rather perfect 4K restoration and transfer itself to go along with a very engaging 5.1 track. Its a shame there are no featurettes, new interviews or archival promo materials to latch on as bonus features, but getting two quality commentaries is nothing to slouch at. This is an instant pick up at whatever price being asked for any film collector, and a FINALLY as it makes the jump from DVD at last.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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