Layer Cake (2005)

My name? If you knew that, you’d be as clever as me.


Over the years, film geeks have been singing the praises of Matthew Vaughn’s breakout debut film, Layer Cake. It is also ensured Daniel Craig getting a spot as the next James Bond. English gangster films are hit and miss with me. More hit than miss with me. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.

J.J. Connolly adapted his book of the same name about his tale of a cocaine dealer known cryptically as XXXX (Daniel Craig) who wants to get out of the game before he gets in too deep. He is not a gangster. He has never first a gun in his time of dealing the coke. His philosophies are keeping a low profile, have a small team of men cutting up the product like Terry and Clarkie (Tamer Hassan, Tom Hardy), never get greedy and always pay your supplier on time. His supplier is Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) who dispatches his right hand man, Gene (Colm Meaney) to transport the drugs and the money.

Price wants to have a private meeting with XXXX to help Price’s friend, Eddie Temple (Michael Gambon) find his missing daughter, Charlotte (Nathalie Lunghi) who could be with her junkie boyfriend, Kinky (Marvin Benoit).

To make matters worse for XXXX, a pompous asshole nicknamed The Duke (Jamie Foreman) steals over a million Super E pills from Serbian war criminals with the help of his girlfriend, Slasher (Sally Hawkins) and right hand, Gazza (Burn Gorman). The Duke wants to sell the pills for a ridiculous amount of profit.

XXXX enlists his mates Cody and Tiptoes (Dexter Fletcher, Steve John Shepherd) to deal with the girls as he has a shit storm falling on him. Apparently, The Duke boldly said his name to the Serbs and one of them hires an assassin named Dragan (Dragan Micanovic) to go after XXXX and he associates. XXXX has to find a way to rectify the situation.

The first half of the movie was a lot of exposition that was okay. Not exactly thrilling, but there is a turning point where everything comes together and I was hooked in. There is not like a Guy Ritchie movie. It is not over the top with the characters having weird quirks or having exaggerated accents. It seems grounded in reality. I applaud the film for that.

Judgment: A tight crime caper. What more can you want?

Rating: ****


About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on July 1, 2010, in 2005, Crime, Drama, Thriller and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I love this movie. Totally love it. It’s making my Top 5 list next week for Best Beating – I’ll never think of Duran Duran the same way again. In a way it was a total stroke of luck that Ritchie passed on this one, ’cause it showed Matthew Vaughn that he really could direct – giving him the confidence to do Stardust and Kick-Ass.

    I think I might even prefer Daniel Craig in this over Casino Royale…

  2. I’m sure there will be those out there who will disagree, but James Bond just wasn’t human. XXXX had all kinds of human foibles and doubts, but had his game face on whenever he was in public. Bond was all gameface, which didn’t exactly offer alot of depth in the acting department.

    • I could understand that point, Steve.

      • I have much love for Casino Royale – which is probably why I felt so betrayed by the suckiness of Quantum of Solace, but Layer Cake has a really special place in my collection. It’s a total underdog film that you can tell is appreciated for its merits rather than any kind of hype it did or didn’t get.

        Great review, Branden. I agree there was a ton of exposition off the top in the movie, but it was handled to stylishly that I didn’t mind. It was also pretty necessary to making sure that you’d find XXXX sympathetic, rather than just some run of the mill drug dealing scumbag.

  3. In case you’re interested:

    I cut this one myself.

    • I completely agree with your sentiments about Casino Royale. Fucking awesome. I think the problem was making a direct sequel to it by making Quantum of Solace. That title is still awful.

      By the way, nice Green Lantern shirt!

      • Thanks dude! It’s about time I get that one replaced.

        Yeah, terrible title and an even worse use of British ultra-fox Gemma Arterton.

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