Sexy Beast (2000)

Sexy Beast (2000)

A slick, subversive crime drama with a stellar supporting performance that's hilarious and terrifying in equal measure

The Very Best



Spain, United Kingdom
English, Spanish
Comedy, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Amanda Redman, Andy Lucas, Ben Kingsley
89 min



What it's about

Just when this happily retired Cockney criminal thought he was out, an unhinged old acquaintance tries to pull him back in for one last heist.

The take

In his debut feature, Jonathan Glazer masterfully subverts our expectations of heist movies to thrilling effect: what should be a perfunctory moment — the classic recruitment scene — is stretched out into nearly an entire film of its own here, and we’re not off the edge of our seat for even a second of it.

All retired Cockney gangster Gal (Ray Winstone) wants to do is lounge around the pool of his Spanish villa with beloved wife Deedee (Amanda Redman). But now there’s a spanner in the works: an unhinged old acquaintance, Don Logan (Ben Kingsley, never better), has unexpectedly rocked up at Gal's hacienda to enlist him for a big job on behalf of the London underworld’s top brass. Don is the type of man you just don’t say “no” to, but the pull of Gal’s idyllic retirement is so powerful that he does just that, a narrative swerve that spins this film off the well-worn (but still enjoyable) track we expected it to follow. Directed with cool assurance, full of unforgettable set-pieces, overflowing with style, and even further distinguished by some surreal touches that really get under the skin, this is one of the slickest, funniest, and most exhilarating crime movies ever.

What stands out

Sexy Beast drips with career-best performances, but none can beat Ben Kingsley’s for its pure electric thrill. We know Don Logan isn’t a man to be messed around from the very first glimpse we get of him, breezing through an airport like a well-oiled rocket dutifully on its way to fulfill its mission. There’s a certain volatility sparking at the edge of all that freakish control, an impression confirmed in every one of Kingsley's other scenes and by the vein in his temple that threatens to burst every time he barks his dialogue. Don is a walking nightmare but, line for line, you’d be hard-pushed to find a funnier performance, too — a seemingly contradictory blend of tension and comic relief that only a master of his craft like Kingsley could pull off.


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