Sexy Beast [2000]

A retired British gangster (Ray Winstone) is trying to keep out of a London heist, despite the efforts of Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), a goateed, shaved-headed pit bull of a gangster in this raw, startling film that grabs your attention and never lets go. Gary "Gal" Dove lounges at his villa on Costa del Sol, with not a care in the world, until his Mediterranean paradise is interrupted by Logan, just arrived to recruit Gal for a London heist led by mob boss Teddy Bass (Ian McShane). Gal refuses the job; Logan won't hear it. He's human nitroglycerine, ready to explode at the slightest provocation, spewing Cockney profanities like armor-piercing bullets. Sexy Beast presents him as hilarious and horrifying, a soloist whose instrument is pure, bilious rage. Kingsley's volatile performance--the polar opposite of his OscarĀ®-winning role in Gandhi--expands the actor's range into startlingly unexpected territory. It's the white-hot center of Sexy Beast, but the feature debut of director Jonathan Glazer (after acclaimed TV commercials and music videos) is equally noteworthy for the performance of the lesser-known Winstone, and also for Glazer's brass-knuckle approach to what is, essentially, a conventional gangland thriller. Glazer's instincts aren't always sound (dream sequences involving a hideous man-rabbit prove a bit too peculiar), but with pugilistic rhythm and a humorous knack for combining well-chosen songs and a rough, kinetic visual style, Sexy Beast is a wild ride. --Jeff Shannon.

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