Planning to retire and begin a new life, Mr. X (Daniel Craig, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), a successful West End drug dealer, has been asked for one last favor: to negotiate the sale of one million hits of Ecstasy. Unfortunat... more »ely for Mr. X, the pills were stolen from a Serbian drug lord who'll cut off his head if he sells them. And with a London crime czar (Michael Gambon, Open Range & The Insider) promising to retire him permanently if he doesn't, Mr. X may be rightfully concerned about his future. Nothing worth losing his head over.« less
Dixie K. (kona-dixy) from KAILUA KONA, HI Reviewed on 6/4/2012...
This movie is something like Quentin Tarantino doing a "Miami Vice" episode. Liked it; moves quickly; the dots get connected.
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Wow... Great, Great Fun and a Smashing Ending!
KDMask | Rochester, Planet Fab, NY | 08/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you like British crime movies or loved "The Usual Suspects" this move is for you. I actually saw this at our local art movie house and went twice. I can't believe it's on DVD so soon! With great acting (Daniel Craig is a young James Woods) and fab dialog, this isn't just a "thug" movie at all. The "layers" of this cake are spectacular. Just when you think you've got it figured out, it twists yet again. The fast-paced action keeps you interested and the music is awesome (I'll be getting the soundtrack next). Don't miss this gem. You'll want to watch it over and over again."
Credible and Entrancing
Andrew Desmond | Neutral Bay, NSW Australia | 08/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Layer Cake" is of that increasingly popular film genre that goes by the loose title of British gangsterism. "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" comes to mind although this film is more a black comedy than "Layer Cake" which strives to remain true to its roots.
The essence of the film is that the lead character, XXXX, played by Daniel Craig is trying to retire from the drug trade. He's had enough, is now comfortably well off and has played the game carefully and by the rules, to the extent that rules exist. However, his retirement is postponed as he is drawn into an ever more complex web of intrigue and double crossing. He finds himself being exposed to greater risk that he would normally accept. He is forced to operate outside his comfort zone.
The film is well placed and totally entrancing as the viewer is gradually sucked in to this nether world of crime. His cohorts seem quite believable as do the lords of the game and the shadowy Bosnian mafia that lurks as a background threat. The plotting is complex and the deals always tense with big stakes being played. The film has "street cred".
The film's ending is unexpected. I will say no more as I don't want to spoil it for others. Perhaps the best advise is simply to see it! "
Bu-Chan | Aotearoa | 03/22/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not knowing what to expect, this was one of those movies that surprised and then kept on surprising. "The Layer Cake" is perhaps the most complete movie I have seen in a long while, with elements inter-linking all through to provide a varied and wild concoction of violence, humour and thrill.
The unnamed main character, (Daniel Craig), narrates the movie of his dealings in the underworld's drug scene, dispensing his wisdom all the while, including his "golden rules" for dealing drugs. XXXX gets involved with a deal regarding some pills, and also gets pulled into a favour for a criminal leader further up the food chain. The plot twists and turns, and there is an array of very colourful characters, with equally colourful dialogue.
As noted by another reviewer, the musical score just blends effortlessly with the movie, making scenes more poignant and lending itself well to the overall feel of the movie itself.
The humour, though not a major feature, is there in its subtle way. A good example is the sex scene that almost was, until XXXX got nabbed by some very serious looking and large fellows. Irony abounds all through the movie, though humour is definitely not the mainstay of the plot.
The ending, (I won't spoil it), is excellent, and makes the preceding movie seem all the more powerful, especially in regard to XXXX's narrations. It was a complete surprise to me, and it was perfect.
For a mob movie, this one has to be among the best that I have seen. It has a whole range of qualities that mark it as different, right from the acting itself to the music. For lovers of something a bit different, this would be an excellent choice."
"Cake" is overcomplicated but seriously cool
Clare Quilty | a little pad in hawaii | 07/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Even though his name is never revealed during the course of the British crime thriller, "Layer Cake," we get to know the hero very well, very fast.
"I'm not a gangster," he explains. "I'm a businessman whose commodity happens to be cocaine."
This guy, identified as XXXX in the end credits, deals only in neatly wrapped kilos; he employs a smart chemist, a slick accountant and a loyal posse of heavies; he has a legitimate business on the side and he tools around London in a sleek silver Audi (station wagon).
And while he might be a "T-shirt and jeans" kind of guy, he sports very expensive-looking T-shirts and jeans.
Of course, the only reason crime thrillers stress the professionalism of their main characters is so we can watch as circumstances eventually force them to break their own rules and pay a stiff price.
Those circumstances appear in the form of Jimmy (Kenneth Cranham) a grumpy upper-level gangster who summons XXXX and demands two sketchy favors of him. XXXX complies and quickly finds himself up to his earlobes in thugs, mols, Serbian assassins and the kind of bottom-feeders he likes to shun.
"Layer Cake" was directed by Matthew Vaughn, who previously produced Guy Ritchie's "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch." All three movies have a lot in common but Ritchie's amped-up films bounce off the walls and onto the ceiling; Vaughn's is colder and more calculating - to use a Brit pop analogy, if Ritchie's movies are akin to the strutting, pub brawlers Oasis, Vaughn's is the orchestral-but-grooving The Verve.
Eventually, though, the plot becomes ridiculously complicated. While it is possible to make sense of all the scams and double-crosses, the movie is a lot more interesting when it focuses on characters instead of twists and coincidences and two particularly exaggerated violent beatings. By the last act, the movie is just chasing its own tail... and yet, somehow, it's a hard movie to dislike.
Despite its terrible title (a euphemism for the gangster hierarchy) but it oozes cool: XXXX is played by Daniel Craig who could almost be a gaunt, slightly freeze-dried Steve McQueen circa "Bullitt" ; the great Michael Gambon shows up as a phlegmatic, aging tiger of a mob boss; Sienna Miller wanders through long enough to model lingerie to the Stones' "Gimme Shelter" ; and though this is his first film, Vaughn really knows how to move a story along with style.
If he can keep the plot from overwhelming the characters next time around, he might turn out to be a really good director. "
Dark, Intelligent Stuff For The Edge Of Your Seat
Malcolm Smith | North Wales, UK | 06/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film suffers because it comes from the same stable as Lock Stock and Snatch. The reason it suffers is that people expect a Lock Stock 3. It isn't. There's a new director in the chair and the film is a lot darker and edgier than the other two.
The first two were black comedies; this one isn't.
This movie won't have large shoot-outs, but what it will have is a movie with a very strong undercurrent of fear going through the lead's final days in business before he retires. But, retirement is not going to be easy.
Things start to go terribly wrong and one can feel the world coming out from under his feet as events outside of his control are starting to take over and things are going totally wrong.
This is not a film where a grand comical shoot out occurs in the last scenes to leave the anti-heroes (they're all bad bad guys not nice bad guys, remember) with the girl and the loot as in Snatch or Lock Stock. Things have to be resolved their own way.
The acting is wonderful; the characters (hoorah!) don't look like gangsters which is the whole point, despite complaints here to the contrary. The lead characters want to go through life without drawing attention to each other so there's no-one acting like cheap hoodlumns from Central Casting.
There's a couple of wonderful touches and, in one of them, I take my hat off to FCUK for their bravery in one of the early scenes. Wonderful stuff.
In short, a good film. Certainly the best British gangland film made so far; above Long Good Friday (even though nothing will surpass THAT ending) and Get Carter. And, a different film whatsoever to Lock Stock and Snatch.
If you want a film which requires thought then get this one, if you want a Hollywood style mob film with a simplistic plot then get another. This is most certainly not a Saturday night no-brainer movie; this is a classic British film."