It's got to the stage where moaning about the glut of UK gangster flicks is like moaning about the weather. No matter how much you whine, those storm clouds are still going to gather and soak you to the skin. Similarly, no matter how much we all rant at the unimaginative, effin' and blindin', gun-totin' Brit-dross that's pissed on our screens, we're still buffeted by mindless Brit gangster flick after mind-less Brit gangster flick.
Yet, despite its distinctly first-glance generic look, the Sunny-Spain-based Sexy Beast at least seems to offer a glimmer of light, given the presence of virgin feature helmer Jonathan Glazer (him behind the Guinness Surfer ad). But despite several neat visual tricks (cameras attached to rolling boulders, Fight Club-style frame-juddering), it all represents yet another wet weekend for anybody looking to escape the Brit-gangster deluge.
The main problem is Ben Kingsley, whose performance is so central to the film that it lives or dies by it. And his input doesn't merely shotgun-blast Sexy Beast through the head as chop its limbs off, dump it in the nearest acid bath and spit on the remains. It's clear that Kingsley is trying to be a wiry, Begbie-style menace, yet he doesn't elicit fear so much as intense irritation, yapping his dialogue like a wound-up terrier. This spiteful little man is supposed to be capable of putting the fear of God into burly Ray Winstone, but it requires making a leap of faith which neither the script nor Kingsley's stuttering histrionics deserve.
The dialogue is insultingly bad, layering brain-numbing repetition over the requisite barrel-load of fahks and cahnts (eg ""What fahkin' 'appened?""(long pause) ""You wanna know what fahkin' 'appened?"" (another pause) ""I'll tell you what fahkin' `appened...""). Such laboured interaction irreparably hurts the pacing - - so much so, that, come the admittedly imaginative heist, you'll be too screamingly bored to care.
Sexy Beast is such a badly paced, shonkily scripted mess that it feels like a movie made up of outtakes. Director Glazer displays plenty of visual flair, but this sadly isn't enough to compensate for a movie-destroyingly awful performance from Ben Kingsley.