Layer Cake (2004)

Selling ecstasy is the ideal way to become James Bond.

Sleek, well dressed and polite, XXXX (Daniel Craig) looks like any other businessman. Now he’s looking at retiring while he’s still young enough to enjoy his ill-gotten gains. He reckons a couple of days should see him clear of the business. That’s the plan, anyway.

It seems like any British gangster flick that has come out within the past 15 years, all have to be compared to Guy Ritchie films. Ritchie did sort of bring this whole “goofy gangster” type of movie to the public, so it makes sense. But what happens when one of his buddies try to out-do him? Ehh, nothing much.

Instead of relying on off-the-wall humor or a slick style, director Matthew Vaughn, creates a story that is pretty interesting right off from the start and stays that way for awhile. Vaughn brings a whole bunch of plot twists that are sure to mess with you for awhile and he gives us this gritty and mildly bleak look at these characters and the lives they live. I don’t want to say that Vaughn has a pretty distinctive style, because I don’t think he has any set style here whatsoever, but I will say that he knows how to make a regular gangster film look pretty damn depressing just by setting it in certain places that you wouldn’t expect them to be at. I can definitely see why this guy went on to do Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class, because he can definitely keep the momentum going no matter what it is that he’s doing.

The plot starts off pretty well and keeps a certain momentum to it that had me into it and watching, but then my interest started to stray away once the plot started digging deeper and deeper. With this story, characters are constantly flying in-and-out with barely any introduction at all and it’s never made clear to us as to what their presence serves to this plot at all. I tried my hardest to remember all of their names right away but as time went on, I found myself almost keeping a tally on my hand as to who was who and who was doing what to whom. It’s a very confusing plot that starts to get a bit more confusing.

Let’s also not forget to add that the characters have some very deep accents where you may only be able to catch about two to three words they say in each of their sentences. I can’t really blame this problem on the film and the actors considering they were born with this accent, but then again, it just adds more annoyance to your head when you’re trying to freakin’ map out everything that’s going on. I know a lot of this sounds like I wish that they dumbed this film down for me but I have to be honest when I say that the accents, countless characters, and plot twists messed me up at times if not for a whole 30-minute period. Then again, I got right back into it by the last act when it starts to become a lot more of a story about all these sort of bad muthtruckas just getting ready to kill one another.

People all say that this is the role that made Daniel Craig the next James Bond and I can definitely see it because this guy is pretty damn good. Craig makes this character (who goes unnamed the whole film on purpose) a very easy one to follow because he’s likable, very sleek and cool, but also is a bit vulnerable and finds himself in a lot of situations that you wouldn’t expect a certain “know-it-all-character” to find himself in. He’s just a good actor and if this was the role that got him his Bond gig, then so be it because he may be the best thing about this film.

It was also pretty cool to see Sienna Miller show up here as nothing more than a hot and sexy lady for Craig’s eyes but I sort of do wish that there was more of her and her character because they could have had a bit of a striking little romance go on here. Also, you may notice a little young performance here from a man known as Tom Hardy playing one of Craig’s lackies, and now that I think about it, I wonder who would win in a fight: Bane or James Bond? Now that would be pretty cool.

Consensus: Layer Cake has a great performance from Daniel Craig and an inspired direction from Vaughn, but it also suffers from being a bit too over-stuffed when it comes to its plot with too many characters, too many twists, and way too many accents that made it harder to understand just what the hell everybody was talking about.



  1. Solid review! I know exactly what you meant about being a tad tough to follow. I think it was a case of them trying to shave like 30 minutes off the length of the movie so they just crammed a lot in a certain amount of time. This was definitely a great performance from Craig and I would love to see him in a film now with Hardy now that Hardy is getting legitimate roles now.

  2. It certainly wasn’t a great film, but I did like all the twists and turns along the way. The scene with he and Sienna Miller was almost as frustrating as the ending to Dumb & Dumber. I’d rate it higher than you would, but not too much higher. Good review!

  3. I had to remember if I saw the movie. I did a review of it, but I cannot recall anything about the movie. Is it that forgettable?

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