Jonathan Glazer's feature film debut is a gem to behold. If you ever had a doubt about Ben Kingsly this is the role he was born for.
In most of heist cinema you have a formula to follow:
1.) The Pitch: this is the who, what, and where of the scheme.
2.) The Roundup: you must collect the right thieves for the job.
3.) Planning: meticulous scouting and preparation that sometimes crosscuts into the action.
4.) The Job: self explanatory (the action we were waiting for)
5.) The Getaway: usually if everything else has worked out this is the step in which everything goes to hell.
Sexy Beast spends most of the film in The Roundup stage leaving only a fraction to the rest of the formula. Glazer is able to take the genre and turn it on its axis - to find new truths in old cliches. While he doesn't pander to recreating the wheel as Tarantino did with Reservoir Dogs, he is able to use the formula to delve into character and drama - two things sometimes missing in heist cinema.
If you're expecting Ocean's Eleven or Snatch you will be let down. Even if you only see it for the astoundingly evil portrait of criminality that Kingsly embodies, we promise the rest will pay off. The tension builds simply because we have no idea where Glazer is leading us, and while our journey has well established elements, the overall outcome is unknown till the end.