Sexy Beast (2000)

Don’t piss off Gandhi.

Gary “Gal” Dove (Ray Winstone) is enjoying life. That’s why the news of the arrival of Don “Malky” Logan (Ben Kingsley), a man clearly from their long buried pasts, is met with such dread. He wants something from Gal, but no one is sure what.

This is the debut feature from director Jonathan Glazer who has done music videos in the past for big-time British bands such as Radiohead, Blur, and Jamiroquai. So basically you know this guy has got to be the shit when it comes to directing and British bad-asses. Mainly the latter.

What I liked about Glazer’s direction here is that it had sort of a mixture between the look of a David Fincher flick and a feel of a Michael Mann one as well. It sounds like a very cool mixture and it is because his style here works by giving you this slick look. It was also really cool to see how he used the contrast of Spain’s bright, beautiful sunlight and England’s wet, depressing nights because one looks like a happy place to be in, while the other does not. Don’t know why Glazer hasn’t been able to do anything worth mentioning since this but I can easily say that I think it’s time for him to come back up on the big-screen and stop making videos for shitty bands like Massive Attack. Sorry Massive Attack lovers out there!

But I’m going to stop focusing on Glazer now because in all honesty, he isn’t the main reason to see this flick. The main reason is none other than Sir Ben Kingsley himself playing the foul-mouthed, high-strung gangster, Don, who doesn’t seem like he wants to take “no” for an answer no matter what the proposition may be. Kingsley may seem like a very left-field choice to play this type of role but it works so well because not only is he perfect with this role but he gave us a look at what he can do with any character just by looking the same exact way he’s been looking for the past 30 years. To be honest, Ben Kingsley is not a scary looking dude but every time he was on-screen here, I wanted to run away from the movie itself. This guy owns just about every scene, constantly yelling, screaming, and causing all sorts of havoc, and is probably the most memorable aspect of the whole flick.

However, that’s also the problem with this flick because he isn’t what this film is all about, he’s actually a supporting character which means that the parts without him aren’t interesting. Don’t get me wrong Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, and everybody else here do great jobs with their roles but when it’s all said and done, you can’t stop to forget about Kinglsey and all of the crazy shit he does in all of his scenes. It was strange because there was just a time in this flick where I didn’t really seem to care as to what was going to happen next to our main character, and just basically wanted to know what Sir Ben was up to and when he was going to pop-up.

It’s also a shame too because the film does try its hardest to do something new with focusing more on character development here rather than all that other gangster stuff we usually see in these kinds of flicks. This is also what attributed to the fact that the flick was starting to drag by the end and the whole cool factor that this film was originally giving off, was starting to go away by the second and as much as I praised Glazer for his direction, I also have to say that I wish he kept up with himself later on in the game. Basically, it’s another one of the cases where the director is inspired and knows exactly what the hell he wants to do but the script is continuing to let him down. Happens all the time, especially to directors from a music video background.

Consensus: Sexy Beast does have a sleek and cool style to it that matches the good performances here, especially Ben Kingsley, but the film started to drag on a bit and started to lose me when they would focus the story away from Kingsley because he is honestly the most memorable thing about this whole flick.



  1. Massive Attack rules! The first three albums alone are classics.

    This film scared the shit out of me because of Ben Kingsley’s performance as Don Logan. In fact, I heard that Kingsley’s performance was inspired by his grandmother. That must’ve been one scary ass bitch!

  2. Saw this one in the theater, and although it’s been 12 years, my recollection is spot-on with how you described it. Definitely dragged on a bit, but it was also a really cool flick. The scene depicted on the poster? Definitely got a reaction from the dozens of college kids in the theater at the time. So awkward but definitely fun, especially given what happens.

    Now I have to go watch it again… and add it to the movie reviewer thing.

  3. Ben Kingsley really pulled a Joe Pesci here. Small looking guy who may or may not be completely insane but you’re scared anyway. He would have been enough to give Mike Tyson a scare.

  4. Great review! I liked the movie much more than you, though – it is one of of my favorite crime/comedy/drama films. Kingsley was indeed fantastic and I love the point you make about him always looking the same but being able to create all of those different characters – so true!

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