banner image

:: Layer Cake

The director of Layer Cake, Matthew Vaughn, is best known for his work as the producer of Guy Ritchie’s gritty English comedies Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. This film fits snugly into the same genre, with endearing pommy gangsters and enough plots twists to make your head spin.

Daniel Craig (Tomb Raider) plays a nameless cocaine dealer who runs his drug business with the same professionalism as his legitimate real estate business. He’s polite and well dressed, respectful to the crime bosses and keeps well away from the sort of people who will ultimately use his product. Having built up a fortune, X decides he will retire at thirty and live the life he always wanted. Before this can happen however, he must complete just one last job for a big crime boss. When things don’t go as planned, X finds himself mixed up with junkies, amateurs and on the wrong side of the Serbian Mafia. He quickly realises he’s no independent businessman after all, but just a small part of something much bigger.

Craig is appealing as X and well supported by a cast that includes Star Trek veteran Colm Meaney, Michael Gambon as a cunning old drug lord, and Sienna Miller (Alfie) as the love interest that X never quite gets to be alone with. The film never deviates too far from the Guy Ritchie concept and even the names of its characters, like Crazy Larry and Paul the Boatman are reminiscent of Barry the Baptist and Frankie Four Fingers.

Like its predecessors, it has more characters than anyone could remember after one viewing, but unfortunately doesn’t tie them into the main story with the same skill. The roller coaster of events is clever but falls short of expectations and long meaningful pauses detract from the film’s pace. However, it does use some interesting devices to keep the audience hooked, such as concealing the main character’s name, and though the themes are familiar the plot is anything but predictable. Layer Cake may lack that cherry-on-top but it’s certainly an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours.