In the sun-splashed south of Spain, Sexy Beast‘s ex-gangster Gal (Ray Winstone) and his cheery ex- porn star wife (Amanda Redman) live life like lottery winners — all expensive bad taste, enjoyed to the fullest — until a boulder comes tumbling down a hill and into his swimming pool. Then a far more menacing intruder wrecks his idyll, the psychopathic Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), come from London to recruit Gal for ”one last job.”
Kingsley received an Oscar nod for his anti-Gandhi, and it’s well deserved. Whether sitting ramrod-straight and silent or spitting out expletive-filled diatribes, Kingsley’s Logan is strangely vulnerable and absolutely frightening, like a whipped dog that’s turned biter.
The heist itself, into which Gal is inevitably drawn, is almost as much of a distraction for us as it is for him. His heart is in Spain, where his wife and good-time pals face some serious cleanup after Logan’s explosive exit. Our hearts are there too, wishing for a chance to watch them again enjoy their good fortune, their thick cockney accents making lines like ”gonna ‘ave the calamari” merely sound like ”gonna ‘ave to kill him, are we?”
WHAT WE SAID then: ”a crackerjack genre piece… [that] presents an authentic and merciless vision of the underworld.” (#601, June 22, 2001) A — Owen Gleiberman