Picks and Pans Review: Sexy Beast

updated 06/25/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/25/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Ben Kingsley, Ray Winstone

A bulky man in a Speedo bathing suit stands next to his swimming pool, soaking up rays so intently that he's oblivious to a massive boulder rapidly hurtling toward him from the hill behind. The boulder sails inches over his head and lands in the pool with a humongous splash. For Gary "Gal" Dove (Winstone), a British gangster who has retired to enjoy the good life with his wife on Spain's Costa del Sol, it's a harbinger of bad things to come.

It's also the promising opening scene of a stylish, often acridly funny suspense thriller. Sexy Beast tracks what happens when Gal's ex-colleague comes to Spain to persuade him to return to London for one last job. Don "Malky" Logan (Kingsley) is not used to being turned down, so when Gal balks, Malky—always ready with a weapon—threatens to hold his own Spanish inquisition on his old partner's nearest and dearest.

With its sunny settings and staccato dialogue, freshman director Jonathan Glazer's Beast is refreshingly different from such jokey, laddish British gangster films as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Love, Honour and Obey. Kingsley, a sinewy, menacing coil, is both viciously comic (watch for the scene in which he refuses to stop smoking on a plane) and seriously scary. (R)

Bottom Line: Kingsley reigns

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