Layer Cake - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Layer Cake Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 31, 2011
Along with Guy Ritchie, Matthew Vaughn is the probably the second biggest director from the UK at the moment with some huge films under his belt, he is also the British gangster film maker of our modern age along with Mr Ritchie having made 'Lock Stock' and 'Snatch' together.

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 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! 
Super Reviewer
November 12, 2013
Stylish, energetic, but overall run-of-the-mill crime thriller, with a convoluted twisty plot and too many characters, which might be a good thing for fans of "Snatch", but I found it more manipulative and confusing than deep and engaging.
Super Reviewer
½ February 2, 2007
A kinetic and razor sharp crime-thriller. It packs style and brains. It's got the style of Lock, Stock and two smoking barrels, Resivor dogs and Goodfellas. It`s wild, fresh, stylish and frequently funny. It's brilliant, gripping, compelling and electrifying. Gangster films don't get any better than this. One endlessly cool flick that has you thinking right till the end. You'll be intrigued, thrilled and amused and definitely entertained. A pure and wickedly awesome adrenaline rush. A unique, clever, intelligent, hard-boiled and hard-edged flick that will have you on the edge of your seat. Director, Matthew Vaughn crafts a near perfect crime film and is a wonderful directional debut. Daniel Craig gives a sensational performance.
Super Reviewer
½ October 20, 2007
A sharply written, funny, violent look at the British crime scene where a middleman (Daniel Craig) wants desperately out of the trade, with one last job on his mind. A somewhat of a cliche plot structure is executed with style and offers enough surprises to keep it interesting, with Craig proving to be a fine fit for the leading man (it's easy to see why he got 007 after this). Director Matthew Vaughn definitely has skill behind the camera, while giving his film a Guy Ritchie gangster feel but also not coming across as a copycat. The ending is really well done, as it pokes fun at the normal, standard finale to a film like this by throwing in a ambiguous shot at its conclusion.
Super Reviewer
September 8, 2007
Daniel Craig in one of his pre-Bond efforts, wherein a large shipment of drugs gone missing is the object of mucho consternation. Colm Meaney and Michael Gambon aid in ratching up the drama, but not enough to cause tension as is intended unfortunately. Still not a complete bore.
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2007
Borrowing some cast members, genre, structure, and some style from his friend and collaborator Guy Ritchie, Layer Cake marked the directorial debut of Matthew Vaughn. Based on the novel of the same name (and scripted by that boo's author), this is the story of a successful nameless (listed in the credits as XXXX) drug dealer/mob middleman who finds himself in one messy and complex situation just on the eve of retirement.

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.
Super Reviewer
June 6, 2011
Sometimes seeking out your newest crush's old bit-part movies leads you to a little gem. What a pleasant surprise! Plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes in this one.
Super Reviewer
August 2, 2009
this is a really great movie. daniel craig is brilliant and the storyline is full of twists and turns. the score is also one of the best i've heard
paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ February 18, 2011
Matt Vaughn just made himself look just as good as Guy Ritchie. With a plot that is tight and characters sharp and on their toes, Daniel Craig deserves more credit for this role as a middleman trying to go up the layer cake.
Super Reviewer
½ January 25, 2009
I enjoyed this intelligent crime flick. It ended exactly as I'd expected, but I didn't realize that Daniel Craig's character wasn't called by his name even a single time only when he says so at the end. A small detail, but I like the way it's presented. Some usual yet great dialogues only made it more enjoyable. Highly recommended for those who like crime/gangster movies.
Super Reviewer
October 18, 2010
Matthew Vaughn made a name for himself by producing two of Guy Ritchie's gangster films, Lock, Stock and Two smoking barrels and Snatch. Both films proved to be terrific, and reinvented the gangster genre. In the case with L4yer Cake, you have the traditional elements of both of Guy Ritchie's films, but with a touch of a more serious approach to the film. While Snatch and Lock, Stock where very comical in nature, Layer Cake strips that away almost entirely and focuses on a serious gangster plot. Matthew Vaughn's directorial debut is one of the best gangster films that I've seen coming out of Britain since Snatch. A well, written film, Vaughn has made a terrific film with a terrific story. His directorial debut is nothing short of excellent and with Layer Cake, he redefines the gangster genre. Layer is unlike any other gangster films out there. I thought that Layer Cake elevated the standards of gangster films, and introduced many new aspects to be explored in the genre. For years, the British have made gangster films, but they have perfected the formula with Layer Cake. The end result is a film that is bold, brutal and confident. Not to mention smart, well acted and directed. This film is one of the best gangster films in a long time and is probably one of the best films since Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and Guy Ritchie's Snatch. Layer Cake has very intriguing plot that will keep the viewer interested from start to finish and will definitely please fans of the genre. Layer Cake displays one of the best storylines in a long time for a gangster films, and Matthew Vaughn's directorial debut is simply brilliant. Above all, this film has secured Matthew Vaughn's place as a top notch director to look for, and he directed the superb Kick Ass; I'd say he's a name to look for in the future. Layer Cake is simply put a blast and very cool and slick gangster film. The best since Snatch, and thats saying a lot.
Super Reviewer
½ October 1, 2010
This is one of the oddest films I have ever seen. It has a good plot and story to it, but it's just too weird. The cast is good for the roles, but it's just a strange film. It is very hard to take seriously sometimes, but overall I enjoyed it quite a bit!
Super Reviewer
½ September 14, 2010
Like Guy Ritchie and Tarantino, Layer Cake attempts to incorporate multiple intersecting stories into one with Craig's character at the center. However, the film has too many beginnings. At first, this is the story of a competent drug dealer, then it's the story of trying to find a missing girl, then his partner beats the hell out of some guy, who we've never heard about until now. At forty minutes in, the film is still starting plot lines.
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.
Super Reviewer
May 6, 2007
Very, very cool movie. A bit hard to tell what's going on - these cryptic British gangster movies are always trying to one-up each other! - but Daniel Craig is captivating, and the story is interesting. Somewhat detached character wants out of the drug business. When it ended, I immediately wanted to watch it again: sure sign of a good flick!
Super Reviewer
October 26, 2008
I've seen a number of these British crime movies lately, and they all seem to be consistently good. Layer Cake is less-stylized than some of its peers, but its great cast and well-layered (pun intended) plot are more than enough to make it as good as any of the others that I have seen.

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.
Super Reviewer
February 14, 2010
I avoided this for many years after being bored by the sheer amount of British gangster films. Most of them were filled with repugnant characters we were supposed to admire. Layer Cake is fairly different. First, it drops the comedy routines and cheeky chappies. Instead we get impressive performances from the likes of Daniel Craig. Craig has one seen where he finds out he has been betrayed, not an uncommon scene in such filmes, but seeing Craig gradually well up and acting genuinely upset was an excellent touch. It plays it straight for the majority of it's length and doesn't rewind every little twist like you're some kind of an idiot. Good job.
Super Reviewer
February 4, 2010
I feel that this is a better film than Matthew Vaughn's produced Guy Ritchie outings. There is just a more interesting story at the heart of everything and it's incredibly darker and fearless than Ritchie's work. It doesn't feel like a Tarantino film like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels did and it also isn't as much of a comedy like Snatch was. I also give some of the credit to the film to Daniel Craig, who's performance will blow you away.
Super Reviewer
September 10, 2007
After being cast as Bond, Daniel Craig's back catalogue is now much sought after. Although Craig came to most of the UK's attention with a stand out performance in Our Friends in the North, it's Layer Cake that showcases why he got the Bond audition. Perhaps now, this strong contender for the best thriller of the year may find the audience it deserves. Mis-sold as a more art house friendly addition to the Guy Ritchie school of crime films, Layer Cake is a unique and remarkable experience.

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.
Super Reviewer
½ March 1, 2007
A cocaine distributor who enjoys a low profile finds himself hunted by Serbian drug dealers after doing business with an inept gang of crooks. Comparisons with Guy Ritchie are inevitable, and the rather overly broadly played "Duke" and his crew invite such comparisons, but the rest of the film is quite a more sophisticated and measured affair. Daniel Craig is at his suave best as the protagonist who sees drugs as a business rather than a criminal activity and this film is no doubt the reason why he came to the attention of the casting director of Casino Royale. The cast of seasoned British veterans, including Michael Gambon, Kenneth Cranham and Colm Meaney all give able support and the plot is cleverly written. Vaughan sometimes skirts close to gimmick territory but the direction is otherwise slick and assured and the whole package comes together as a very entertaining and well made British crime film from the old school. Minor irritations are the pop music soundtrack which is occasionally misjudged and intrusive and I felt there was one too many twists at the end to convince, but otherwise very good stuff.
Super Reviewer
June 13, 2007
flashy crime movie with more reflection and drawn-out tension than usual...and a non-flashy element, the hero who just wants to act the good businessman w/o people looking to blow his head off
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