Fox // 2001 // 89 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 21st, 2002
"No no no no no no no!" -- Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), Sexy Beast
Who'd have thought that Ben Kingsley -- Mr. Gandhi himself -- would transform into one of the most ferocious, dastardly villains in recent memory? I'm not the only one who thought his performance in Sexy Beast was great -- Kingsley has also nabbed himself an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor and all around kudos from critics around the nation. With only eyebrows and a wispy goatee, Kingsley commands the screen as Don Logan, a man so besieged with power and anger that he makes Darth Vader look like Mr. Rogers. Also starring Ray Winstone (Agnes Browne) and Ian McShane (Exposed), Sexy Beast slinks up one DVD care of Fox Home Entertainment.
Gal (Winstone) is a retired gangster living out his days in lovely Costa del Sol, Spain. Enjoying life with his ex-porn star wife Deedee (Amanda Redman) and spending time with his pal Aitch (Cavan Kendall) and his wife Jackie (Julianne White), Gal thinks his life of crime has come to a close -- until the vicious Don Logan (Kingsley) comes calling. Don flies into Spain to recruit Gal for "one last heist" being pulled off by Logan's boss Teddy (McShane). Complications soon arise as Don starts to hear the wrong answer from Gal: "no." Foaming like a mad dog with rabies, Don makes Gal and his wife's lives a living nightmare as he continues to badger Gal into pulling of the job. With violence and brutality as his weapons, Don finally convinces Gal to jump in the saddle for one last gig...but not without a price.
Sexy Beast crackles with wit and fury like almost no movie that's come before it. Certainly there have been better gangster movies, and more Italian looking gangster characters. But I don't think that there has been anyone quite as convincing as Ben Kingsley's Don Logan. Seething with hatred and spite, Logan is a man that has no limits, no cares, no emotions; he's like a robot that's been set on auto-destruct from the get-go.
I never used to be a particular fan of mafia movies. In the past I've avoided them at most costs, usually under the naïve assumption that they're all the same, give or take a few twists (why this has never occurred to me about horror movies I'll never know). However, my views were slightly changed after watching all three of The Godfather movies (in one lump sitting, no less). While I still won't be the first viewer to jump into the spate of GoodFellas and Godfather knock-offs, I do have a newfound respect for the genre.
Which brings me back to Sexy Beast. This is a movie that is a must for anyone desiring to see A.) excellent acting and/or B.) a movie with giant runaway boulder, fat men in Speedos, or Ben Kingsley saying a certain word six billion times (I'll give you a hit: it's part of a woman's anatomy and it rhymes with "hunt"). The plot isn't anything special, just a basic set-up so we can watch these actors have the time of their lives yelling and spitting at each other. Everyone does their parts very well, but the center of the film relies strongly on Kingsley and Winstone's performances; these are two men who demand your attention, and get it with full force. Don't believe me? Watch the scene where Don talks to himself in the mirror while shaving, cleans up, then proceed to trample into Don and Deedee's bedroom to knock a few heads around. Kingsley rightly deserved a Supporting Oscar nod for this performance, and come March 24th, I think he should be walking away with that little golden statue.
See this movie. Don't let the title freak you out (yes, I know it sounds like a late night Cinemax movie starring Mickey Rourke and Shannon Tweed). Sexy Beast is an excellent movie that displays two actors at the top of their game. As Don would say, "Yes...yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes!!!"
Sexy Beast is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a very good looking picture with nary a defect to be found. While I spotted a few instances of edge enhancement and grain, they were very slight and not at all intrusive to the viewing. The color schemes all look very well rendered and even with the black levels appearing solid and dark. Fox has done a nice job on this transfer and deserves a hearty slap on the back.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in English. I was surprised at how enveloping and expansive this 5.1 track was. There are many instances where the surround sounds are used through both the front and rear speakers. All aspects of the dialogue, effects, and music are free of any distortion or excessive hiss. Also included on this disc is a Dolby Surround soundtrack in English, plus English and Spanish subtitles.
This isn't the most extensive DVD ever released, though a few extra features make this a better-than-average Fox edition. To start off the disc there's a commentary track featuring Ben Kingsley and producer Jeremy Thomas. There is a lot of information in this track, though the monotony of the men's voices start to lull you into a deep trance. I enjoyed hearing Ben Kingsley divulge some insight about his character, but this track seems to have too many gaps of silence to be a complete success. It's a fairly interesting commentary, but not the best one ever recorded.
The other big extra on this disc is a featurette that runs about seven minutes long and includes interviews with actors Ben Kingsley, Way Winstone, Ian McShane, Amanda Reidman, Cavan Kendall, Julianne White, producer Jeremy Thomas, and director Jonathan Glazer. Except for a few pieces of discussion about the story and characters, this is just promotional fluff with lots of clips as filler.
Finally there are two theatrical trailers for the film, a TV spot, and three bonus trailers for The Deep End, Waking Life and Broken Lizard's cop comedy Super Troopers.
Oh my, how I liked this movie. It's always fun to find a flick that really catches your attention and makes you get excited once again over the medium of celluloid (after watching The Mummy Returns much of my faith faded away...) Fox has done a great job on this title, and it's well worth the rental or purchase!
Sexy Beast is free to go and...well, just be sexy! We stand adjourned!
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Commentary by Actor Ben Kingsley and Producer Jeremy Thomas
* Two Theatrical Trailers
* Three Bonus Trailers
* TV Spot