In London, a real-estate scam puts millions of pounds up for grabs, attracting some of the city's scrappiest tough guys and its more established underworld types, all of whom are looking to get rich quick. While the city's seasoned criminals vie for the cash, an unexpected player -- a drugged-out rock 'n' roller presumed to be dead but very much alive -- has a multi-million-dollar prize fall into... See full summary »
Bob Saginowski finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood's past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living - no matter the cost.
A young man who was sentenced to seven years in prison for robbing a post office ends up spending three decades in solitary confinement. During this time, his own personality is supplanted by his alter-ego, Charles Bronson.
Ivan Locke, a dedicated family man and successful construction manager, receives a phone call on the eve of the biggest challenge of his career that sets in motion a series of events that threaten his carefully cultivated existence.
A successful cocaine dealer, who has earned a respected place among England's Mafia elite, plans an early retirement from the business. However, big boss Jimmy Price hands down a tough assignment: find Charlotte Ryder, the missing rich princess daughter of Jimmy's old pal Edward, a powerful construction business player and gossip papers socialite. Complicating matters are two million pounds' worth of Grade A ecstasy, a brutal Serbian gang and a whole series of double crossings. The title "LAYER CAKE" refers to the layers or levels anyone in business goes through in rising to the top. What is revealed is a modern underworld where the rules have changed. There are no 'codes', or 'families' and respect lasts as long as a line. Not knowing who he can trust, he has to use all his 'savvy', 'telling' and skills which make him one of the best, to escape his own. The ultimate last job, a love interest called Tammy, and an international drug ring threaten to draw him back into the 'cake mix'. ... Written by
Great showcase for Daniel Craig's talent - and solid entertainment
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, etc.
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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