Layer Cake Reviews
'Layer Cake' is a good crime comedy, featuring electric direction from Matthew Vaughn, a funny script, and the best performance from Daniel Craig that I've ever seen. It even comes with an amazing ending, which would be really ballsy if I didn't know there were plans for a sequel.
defining role for daniel craig
Perhaps this was on purpose. "Layer Cake" follows an unnamed drug dealer as he plans to go into retirement, the title of the film acting as a metaphor for the leveled and messy process of attempting to commit such an action. But the several intersecting storylines are never thoroughly explained enough for us to understand which ones are more vital than others. And because its central character is the star of almost all of them, it is as though we're witnessing a tabloid star trying to run away from the paparazzi. At all times, too much is going on.
But "Layer Cake" grooms a charismatic energy similar to the way "Snatch" does - though we may not fully understand the plot as it wears us down, the dialogue is compulsively listenable and the cast is credible as a mob of criminals ranging from elegant to grizzled. At the front of the relishable ship of sin is Daniel Craig, whose suavity is so vast that it doesn't come as a surprise that he became James Bond just a year after the film's release. In "Layer Cake," he stars as an unnamed, big-time drug dealer who the credits bill as XXXX. Young and sleek, he flourishes on the entrepreneurial side of the business, dependent on henchmen to do necessary dirty work. Not one to kill, we'd almost call him a good man if he weren't so greedy and remorseless.
However much baggage he carries, however, XXXX is an anti-hero of the Clint Eastwood brand, just a little less calm and collected. As the film opens, he is at the top of his game, his dealings without interruption and his monetary success higher than ever. But a philosophy walks by his side at all times, that philosophy being that you should always go out with a bang and that, once your fortune is made, there's no point in risking the possibility of losing it all. XXXX plans to retire from the drug game as soon as possible.
Expectations, though, are not always something to be quickly met in this cruel world. To his dismay, his superior, Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) tasks him with finding the missing daughter of a colleague (Michael Gambon), as well as sorting out a botched ecstasy deal. Neither assignment is alluring, but XXXX is determined to get out of the business. We can only hope that he doesn't lose his life, or worse, his financial superiority, while doing so.
Attitude goes a long way in "Layer Cake," and thankfully, it has enough spunk and threatening faces to both mock its seriousness and maintain a dangerous tone that convinces us that cheeky quips don't ensure that the crime world isn't safe enough to allow us to stop worrying about a random bullet to the head. Matthew Vaughn, in his directorial debut, gives the film a glossy visual style able to make even bloodshed seem posh; J.J. Connolly's (also the author of the novel) script is remarkably lightning paced. Comprehensibility isn't a feature of "Layer Cake," and it's a problem. But its swagger is irresistible.