17: Layer Cake (mmm, yummy!)

Layer Cake – October 1, 2004
Starring: Daniel Craig, Tom Hardy, Michael Gambon, Sienna Miller, Ben Whishaw
Written by: J.J. Connolly
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

The plot: “A successful cocaine dealer, who has earned a respected place among England’s Mafia elite, plans an early retirement from the business. However, big boss Jimmy Price hands down a tough assignment: find Charlotte Ryder, the missing rich princess daughter of Jimmy’s old pal Edward, a powerful construction business player and gossip papers socialite. Complicating matters are two million pounds’ worth of Grade A ecstasy, a brutal neo-Nazi sect and a whole series of double crossings. The title “LAYER CAKE” refers to the layers or levels anyone in business goes through in rising to the top. What is revealed is a modern underworld where the rules have changed. There are no ‘codes’, or ‘families’ and respect lasts as long as a line. Not knowing who he can trust, he has to use all his ‘savvy’, ‘telling’ and skills which make him one of the best…” – IMDB

My thoughts: Oh, I love me some crime movies with double-crossing, clever nicknames, quirky personalities, and suave leading men. I’ll be honest in saying that before watching Layer Cake, I didn’t really “get it” when it came to Daniel Craig. So he’s got blue eyes and he’s smooth. But now that I’ve seen this film, I am so on board with him. He can be my Bond any day.

Layer Cake was like a more serious Snatch. Snatch relies heavily on its quick, fast-paced cuts and mini plots, whereas Layer Cake had a focus on Mr. X (Craig) and how he was going to get himself out of the messes he was stuck in. I watch Snatch to laugh and marvel at the number of missteps made by all of the characters and I would watch Layer Cake to hear Dumbledore say “fuck” a dozen times and to see Daniel Craig wear a suit.

It wasn’t the greatest movie ever. It didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat and I didn’t especially care about all of the characters (some of them, I couldn’t even remember their names or their role in the whole scheme of things). It was enjoyable and definitely worth a watch (come on, pre-Inception Tom Hardy? How can you pass that up?) Considering the fact that Daniel Craig seems to have the reputation of being a hardass, I was expecting something akin to a Transporter movie. Instead, I got a protagonist who doesn’t like guns, is embarrassed when a woman talks dirty to him, and tries to stay out of trouble at all costs; definitely a refreshing take on the typical crime/revenge plot.

All in all, give it a shot. It probably won’t disappoint, just don’t anticipate the greatest movie of all time. While this wasn’t exactly a glowing review, Vaughn being the director should put you at ease – he directed Stardust, X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass and he produced Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Stars: 3/5

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