A volatile gangster tries to convince his retired
friend to come back into the fold for one last job.
Sexy Beast (2000)
Directed by Jonathan Glazer
Written by Louis Mellis and David Scinto
Starring Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane,
Amanda Redman, Cavan Kendall, Julianne White, James Fox
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actor (Ben Kingsley)
I love a good British gangster film, especially one featuring the triple threat performances of Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, and Ian McShane. Even more so when I've heard about Kingsley's Oscar-nominated performance for years and only recently managed to actually track down a copy of the film. Sexy Beast is a short but sweet gangster film that subverts expectations and tropes to deliver a unique tale of the human side of organized crime. In fact, the volatile Don Logan and the firmly retired Gal were the inspiration for the infamous Trevor and Michael from Grand Theft Auto V. That alone makes this film essential to the development of 2010's pop culture.
Gal (Winstone) was a safecracker in London, but now he's living a peaceful retired life in Spain with his wife Deedee (Redman). That all changes when Gal gets a phone call from Don Logan (Kingsley), the craziest, most fearsome and sour bastard in the London crime game. Don wants Gal to come back for one last job, and now Gal has to tell a crazy man that he's not interested. Of course, this all goes tits up pretty fast, resulting in a shocking twist and an unpredictable finale. In addition, it's always cool to see Ian McShane play a crime boss, in this case the suave and devious Teddy Bass.
Sexy Beast has earned its reputation based almost solely off of Kingsley's insanely good performance. The film has a Guy Ritchie flair but his style never feels copied. That's tough to effectively pull off. I think what makes this one stand out is the character development. Gal really does want to stay retired because he loves his life and he's afraid to go back. Don lashes out because he's afraid to admit when things are out of his control. Even Teddy doesn't want to kill when he doesn't have to. It's the characters that makes this one a solid watch.