Layer Cake (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner28/09/2004

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Well acted, impressively shot and entertaining enough not to get tarred with the ‘Lock Stock wannabe’ brush, but ultimately there is nothing particularly new or exciting here.

If you’ve seen the trailers or the poster campaign for Layer Cake, you could be forgiven for not wanting to touch it with a ten foot pole: the trailers have a celebrity chef explaining that the “ingredients” for a good Layer Cake include “Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch”, while the posters, frankly, look rather stupid (a cake with a woman’s legs; half-cake, half-car) and fail to generate interest in the film.

Lock Stock Reference Counter-Productive

In fact, the Lock, Stock connection is counter-productive, because although the film is directed by Lock, Stock producer Matthew Vaughn and although, okay, yes, it is about British gangsters, it is also nothing like Lock, Stock or Snatch and nowhere near as bad as any of the slew of Britcrap gangster flicks that tried to cash in on the success of those films. (Love, Honour and Obey, anyone? Didn’t think so.).

Based on the novel by J.J. Connolly, Layer Cake stars Daniel Craig (Sylvia, The Mother) as a nameless cocaine dealer, a businessman who has made his fortune by preserving his anonymity, keeping things running smoothly and never getting his hands dirty. As the film opens, he is planning to get out of the business - clearly, the man has never seen any movies.

Sure enough, his protector, crime boss Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) asks him for two small favours: track down the daughter of crime boss Eddie Temple (Michael Gambon) and oversee the selling of a huge amount of pills procured by short-tempered lowlife crim The Duke (Jamie Foreman). Naturally, neither of these things go quite according to plan…

Craig Effortlessly Cool

Craig is effortlessly cool in the lead – between this and his role in the upcoming adaptation of Enduring Love, he should soon be achieving Heap Big British Star status, if not quite in Paul Bettany-sized proportions. Cranham and Gambon are enormously good value too, with both actors clearly enjoying themselves.

There’s also strong support from Colm Meaney and George Harris as Craig’s right-hand men, while Sienna Miller (better known as Jude Law’s current girlfriend) has the obligatory lingerie scene and not much else as Craig’s love interest.

In his directorial debut, Vaughn shows an impressive sense of style, wisely deciding to ditch the flashy Guy Ritchie-style flourishes in favour of a more serious approach that complements the film nicely. In addition, Vaughn’s glossy shots of the London skyline wouldn’t look out of place in a Michael Mann film, thanks to cinematographer Ben Davis.

The main problem with Layer Cake is that it lacks a show-stopping set-piece (think of the torture scene in Gangster Number One or the cocaine sequence in Goodfellas) that might have made it more memorable. That said, it’s undeniably enjoyable and well acted, though you might feel that you’ve seen it all before.

Film Trailer

Layer Cake (15)
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Content updated: 17/10/2017 00:52

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