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Sexy Beast (2001)

There's a bit of the beast in all of us.

Starring:

Alvaro Monje

Amanda Redman

Ben KingsleyBen Kingsley

Cavan Kendall

Ian McShane

James Fox

Julianne White

Ray Winstone

Robert Atiko

Directed by:

Jonathan Glazer

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 89 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18

Country: United Kingdom, Spain

A gangster/cop/bank robber coming out of retirement for one last job has been done an abundance of times (The Bank Job, Escape from New York and Red Dragon to name but a few) yet Sexy Beast is so much better than the vast majority of its peers thanks to excellent performances, a slightly different and original context, and a smooth – if not spectacular – execution. Compared with the plethora of awful British gangster films since Lock, Stock…’s initial mid-nineties success, Sexy Beast looks like a stonewall classic.

Gal (Winstone), Deedee (Redman), Aitch and Jackie (White) are retirees doing the usual stuff ? contracting skin cancer, eating and drinking themselves into oblivion and generally living the good life in the Costa del Sol. The difference between these two couples and the usual coffin-dodging ilk is that they are ex-gangsters who have left the trappings and danger behind to enjoy their spoils. Their tranquillity is shattered with the surprise visit of ultra-violent Don (Kingsley) who has been sent to Spain to recruit Gal by any means possible for one last bank job back in Blighty for brutal kingpin Teddy (McShane).

Alongside, playing Gandhi, Psychotic gangster Don, is probably Kingsley’s finest big screen role. He mixes up tension-building twitchiness and comically-elevated violence perfectly to produce a terrifying character who proves that words can be louder than actions. I am normally quite critical of the one-dimensional acting skills of Ray WInstone however he was made for the role of safe-cracker Gal and he pulls off the Cockney-turned-good role perfectly. Above and beyond Christian Bale and his method acting, Winstone must’ve been forced to spend months on a beach drinking beer and eating kebabs. Some people are just committed.

On the critical side, the story does feels a underwhelming at times and some characters are not fleshed out enough as we never really see Gal’s dark side as he comes across as the untarnished hero of the film rather than an anti-hero. Basically, take away Ben Kingsley and you haven’t got the great film. Overall though, If this is your kind of thing, then it does deserve its place as a cult classic.

It's Got: Ben Kingsley's terrifying performance, serviceable heist storyline, skin cancer

It Needs: Something more remarkable to happen post-Don, more character building

DVD Extras The usual suspects are here: commentary, seven minute behind-the-scenes featurette, trailers and TV spots DVD Extras Rating: 5/10

Alternatives:

The Bank Job, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, Trainspotting

Summary

A workmanlike heist movie that’s given cult status by a terrifically terrifying performance by Ben Kingsley and a role that Ray WInstone was born to play.

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