Layer Cake (2004)

Layer Cake (2004)

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast: Daniel Craig as XXXX, Tom Hardy as Clarkie, Jamie Foreman as Duke, Sally Hawkins as Slasher, Burn Gorman as Gazza, Brinley Green as Nobby, George Harris as Morty, Tamer Hassan as Terry, Colm Meaney as Gene, Marcel Iures as Slavo, Francis Magee as Paul the Boatman, Dimitri Andreas as Angelo, Kenneth Cranham as Jimmy Price, Garry Tubbs as Brian, Nathalie Lunghi as Charlie

I can IMPOSSIBLY outline the plot of Matthew Vaughn's Layer Cake, so
I'll just say it's about a nameless guy (Daniel Craig) doing some
criminal stuff in London.

In my observation there are three approaches to gangster characters in
crime films: 1) The overly-amateurish 'gangsters' that are scared sh*t
and mess up, like in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, 2) The kind
of gangster who is an amateur, but picks up on criminal ways quickly
and effortlessly if the occasion calls for it, like Max the cab driver
from Collateral and 3) The stone-cold professionals who can do
whatever, whenever with whatever, like any mob-boss, contract killer,

What is so endlessly refreshing about Layer Cake (2004) is that it
applies none of these approaches to its main character Daniel Craig. He
is a drug-dealer, but reluctantly resorts to violent ways. He hates
guns. Murders and violence disturb him. He takes time to cope with
things. He shows fear and hesitation. He actually bleeds when he is
hit. In short, he is an extremely realistic person and this facilitates
the film's realistic atmosphere - there's no glossy visuals or
over-the-top violence.

Now, it is my opinion that Layer Cake could have perhaps used some of
the latter to spice things up. Its director is the producer of Snatch
and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and it is clear here that he is
trying to move away from flashy Ritchie editing and effects as much as
possible, making his own film just a bit too barren in order to be
'different'. It works fine, but as a result, the gangster characters
aren't very funny or colourful - rather they are down-to-earth London
men trying to make a living. A shady living, true, but still a living.

A few bland characters and an extra-template romantic storyline
featuring Sienna Miller (I like her, but she is redundant in this film)
drag this film down, but overall it is a very solid crime thriller,
superbly acted by Daniel Craig. The score is great. In particular,
please note the great use of "Ordinary World" by Duran Duran. Layer
Cake isn't gloriously entertaining or anything but it feels very real
and engaging and it is interesting to see the acting abilities of
future Mr Bond - as well as his bare chest.


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