There are some story ideas that have simply been worn threadbare with overuse, such as "the cop that doesn't play by the rules". Perhaps the most recent overused plot is "the criminal who is persuaded to do one last job". Most of these are heist pictures, so I tend not to mind the overuse. The heists themselves are often entertaining enough so that I can forgive the unoriginality of the plot. But one film that used this storyline five years ago was so engrossing, It could have had taken out the heist entirely and not been diminished in the least.
Sexy Beast opens on a palatial home in Spain, where a retired gangster named Gary "Gal" Dove (Ray Winstone) has been living the good life. He has plenty of money put away, he has a beautiful wife Deedee (Amanda Redman) and he spends his days sunning himself by the pool. The only violent actions left in his life is the occasional rabbit hunt in the desert. He soon gets word that an old criminal associate of his, Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), is coming to visit and ask him to come and do one last job in London. And, as the audience will soon discover, Don Logan does not, not take "No" for an answer.
Symbolism, when it's overdone, can be really annoying. Sexy Beast manages to tread the fine line from the very first scene to the very last. Gal's life is first interrupted by a giant boulder that rolls down a mountain and lands in his swimming pool, and this mirrors the other force of nature that will quickly enter his life in the form of Logan. Soon, he is haunted by nightmares of an Uzi-toting rabbit wearing cowboy boots (this sounds like a ridiculous image, but trust me when I say that this is one of the most effective and convincing dream sequences I've ever seen done). He's haunted by the past he left behind, and Logan is a very vivid reminder of it.
When we later see Gal in London, it is jarring to be in the middle of the blue and black shades of a typically English downpour after being in the yellows and reds of the hot Spanish dessert. More than that, we notice a shot of Gal in a bathrobe and sitting on the bed in his posh hotel room. The whole image is of a soft man being put up in a soft place, like a tourist (which is what he is after having been away from his birthplace for so long). He's out of his element, and the thinly veiled contempt that the other criminals show towards him speaks volumes. The movie is all about Gal, and our attention and sympathies are with him every step of the way.