Layer Cake Reviews
Those two films pretty much flash started the British gangster/underworld flicks back into being and created a whole load of copies in film style and imagery. 'Layer Cake' is Vaughn's attempt without his partner in crime (pun intended) and you can obviously see how that collaboration has rubbed off on him.
The film is pretty much like 'Lock Stock' and 'Snatch' and could almost be the third in a trilogy really, the plot is a hotpot of subplots wrapped around one main plot which all intertwine and work off each other well. Although its very familiar by now in visuals, dialog and concept its still somehow good fun to watch hardcases, fumbling crooks and foul mouthed crime lords all batter each other trying to get money/drugs/women/guns etc...one or the other.
It really is nothing new after the last two big Ritchie films it has to be said with virtually the same cast yet again, bar Vinnie Jones, the same outcomes and the same kind of violence all topped off with outrageously harsh cockney accents. Craig fits in quite well with this world as the well spoken sensible dealer and he does a good job unlike his usual wooden pouting performances, you do want him to win the day and its nice to see someone play a role in these types of films without a whole load of attitude and mouth.
Don't expect anything new to the genre with this as its the same again from Vaughn but its neater, tighter and not as ludicrous as the previous big two Brit gangster flicks, its still a lairy little sod of flick though, bosh!
Deciding he's gotten as far as he wanted in the world of crime, XXXX plans to retire for good. His plans are interrupted when he's asked to sell a shipment of 1 million ecstasy pills. It should be relatively easy, but matters are complicated by the fact that the pills are stolen from a Serbian war criminal who will kill him if he sells them, and a ruthless London crime boss who will kill him if he doesn't.
What follows is a zany, wild, and energetic game through a tangled web of colorful characters, all kinds of intricate and layered subplots, and the tough decisions XXXX has to make if he wants out of his Catch-22 situation alive. As the title inplies, there's a lot going on here, and it can be a tad hard to follow at times, but I've read the novel, and actually found this to be a bit more enjoyable and easier to follow than that. Even having read the book, I wasn't able to keep it all straight, but I get the broad gist, and that's the most important thing.
Vaughn basically employs a "Ritchie-lite" style, dialing down on some of the freneticness, and reserving the amount of flashy camera tricks and showmanship, save for a cool scene where an assault is shown from the perspective of the victim. The intricate, interweaving, and complicated plotlines remain the same though, but the way they are executed is somewhat more straightforward.
The cast has a lot of well knowns and Ritchie players, but they do a fine job with the material, especially a scene stealing Michael Gambon and the always awesome and charismatic Daniel Craig in a fun pre-Bond role. I like Sienna Miller, but it's a shame she's pretty much wasted in what could have been a great femme fatale role that ends up going nowhere and having no real purpose.
All in all, a fun and stylish British crime caper. It's a mess at times, but still highly enjoyable and shows signs of the great things Vaughn has come to do since.
Daniel Craig is on the bad side of mediocre. His performance is uneven at best. He is often stoically cool in the tradition of fine British gangsters, but without warning, he becomes just as profane and screamy as the supporting cast.
Overall, this movie is flawed in structure and performances, and it's attempt to be "cool" ultimately fell flat.
Daniel Craig is the star of the show, and his performance here makes me want to watch more of his pre-Bond movies. He really is a great actor with a pretty diverse range. And I've never seen Sienna Miller this blindingly sexy before. I wanted to see much, much
more of her. The plot is suitably twisty and never dull, so fans of these kinds of movies are likely to be as pleased with Layer Cake as I was. It's the kind of movie that starts off strong and finishes even stronger.
The plot is deceivingly simple and would wrongly be placed in the gangster-wanting-to-retire-peacefully cinema staple seen frequently in Al Pacino movies. It is a much greater accomplishment that the audacious visual style, superb script and excellent performances make easy comparisons to this film pretty difficult. If anything it is closer to Schrader's 'American Gigalo' where the morally questionable hero is engulfed in a situation going on around him. The predominantly male cast is faultless with everyone from Dexter Fletcher to Michael Gambon putting in superb turns to give the characters justice. Far more human than the cartoon stereotypes we've come to expect after so very many Brit gangster flicks. Craig has never looked in better shape for taking on Hollywood.
Hats off then to Matthew Vaugn for filming Britain as it can look. Grimy in places but every bit astonishing in locations as our Stateside cousins. We've grown too used to seeing rain pouring and hackneyed clichés that have represented this country on celluloid. It's not foppish. It's not Bend It Like Beckham. So there really is no excuse left not to see it (aside from the awful trailer). Layer Cake deserves a wide audience and there's more than enough of everything for everyone to enjoy. At times hilarious, astonishingly frank and incredibly concise the whole film is a pure joy and clearly made for people that love film. Makes you wonder why they can't all be as classy as this.