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London criminal Gary ‘Gal’ Dove (Ray Winstone) has retired to Spain where he lives with wife Deedee (Amanda Redman). His happiness is interrupted when fearsome enforcer Don ‘Malky’ Logan (Ben Kingsley) arrives with orders for Gal to return home for one last, big job. Unable to refuse Logan's persuasive ways, Gal signs up for the heist in the hope he can leave his past behind once and for all. But Don’s not done with Gal and his Spanish idyll.

The first words we hear in Sexy Beast are "bloody hell". It's a portent of what's to come as the camera examines Gal (Ray Winstone) sunning himself to a crisp while The Stranglers' Peaches blasts on the soundtrack. A few minutes later he misses death by millimetres when a boulder tumbles down a hill and into the swimming pool of his Spanish hidey-home. Some days for retired cockney villains are diamonds, some days are stone as Gal discovers when he's called up for one last job back in the London he checked out of but can never really leave. This uneven psychological crime thriller tries a little too hard to rise above "once a crook, always a crook" conventions but deserves marks for trying and succeeding very well in patches. It's the setup rather than the execution that's interesting here. It's good to see Ray Winstone, so often cast as a heavy, playing a sympathetic character whose worst nightmare is realised when fearsome Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) arrives with a personal offer from bigwig Teddy Bass (Ian McShane) that's too scary to refuse. A deliciously over the top Kingsley is great to watch as the houseguest from hell who tears Gal, Deedee and best friends Aitch (Cavan Kendall) and Jackie (Julianne White) apart during a visit that shifts expertly from unease to terror and ultimately to violence. Things are less interesting once Gal arrives in London although there's still a menacing performance from McShane and a wonderful cameo from James Fox (back in Performance territory, at last!) to look forward to. As an acting showcase and jet-black comedy Sexy Beast delivers the goods. As a crime caper it's just okay, with a few neat flourishes. Either way it's worth a look.
Richard Kuipers

Sexy Beast is a surprise – a surprise that it was nominated for a Best British Film BAFTA award and invited to film festivals like Melbourne. Despite its top notch cast, the film is really just an average crime thriller with a few flash ideas and set-ups. Ray Winstone polishes up to be a less than usually vile crim, but only because he’s retired and sunning himself in Spain. Ben Kinglsey’s much acclaimed portrayal of nasty little bugger Don Logan is a great turn allright, and his nasty hood friend Teddy Bass is played to the hilt by Ian McShane, giving us two turbocharged baddies snagging a retired one. The film needs more, including a payoff on the title – which we don’t get. A bit laboured, these British crime thrillers: and hard work on the ears, with accents as heavy as a bad Yorkshire pudding. Issarrigh, bu nuffin ta git worked up abaht.
Andrew L. Urban

Sexy Beast is an interesting gangster film in many ways, not the least being its scintillating title. All in all, it's probably more beastly than sexy, although irony plays a big role in the latter. The opening scene is one that stays with me. He's slightly overweight and working on his tan. He wears a heavy gold chain and canary yellow bathers. The surrounding palms are plush and waver gently in the breeze. The tranquil, picturesque Spanish villa location is a wonderful contrast to the very nasty nature of its occupants and Ray Winstone is well cast as Gal, the hood who wants to retire in luxury in his newfound haven. He is not particularly likeable, but we get to understand him. Then we meet Logan…. To my mind, it is Ben Kingsley's film – he is detestable as Don Logan, a positively horrid crim, who shows no humanity, only an arrogant, offensive bulldozer approach. The cinematography is effective with its use of very tight shots and Jonathan Glazer's direction is confident and individual. We are confronted by and meld deep into this world of moody crime that favours a sexual undercurrent. There's plenty of language, action and violence, and the performances are certainly tops. I went along for the ride, although I was a little disappointed in the totality. For the genre, it delivers, but will come and go like many before.
Louise Keller

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CAST: Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Glazer

PRODUCER: Jeremy Thomas

SCRIPT: Louis Mellis, David Scinto


EDITOR: John Scott, Sam Sneade


MUSIC: Roque Baños

RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes



VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: February 13, 2002

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