It seems like British films are starting to
have quite an impact on American audiences these days. Directors like
Guy Ritchie and Danny Boyle are opening doors for filmmakers in the UK, and
showing us that Hollywood isn't the only place to look for well made movies.
The biggest film to come from across the pond recently is LAYER CAKE,
which is thanks to the producers of hits like LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING
BARRELS and SNATCH. Now those two films have definitely
established themselves as great British crime classics. So can LAYER
CAKE carry that feeling on?
Sienna Miller and Daniel Craig
can't deny their mutual attraction.
The story opens with a narrative about crime and how it works in the London
underworld, told to us by a nameless figure (Daniel Craig) who knows what he's
talking about. This fellow happens to be a fairly successful cocaine
dealer, who longs to retire and leave the business for good. When a
crime boss named Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) assigns him to find a girl, he
feels like maybe this job will put him where he ultimately wants to be.
With the assistance of his pals, the job may not end up being that difficult.
But there's also the matter a pesky freelance dealer trying to sell some large
quantities of ecstasy, which ends up interfering in everyone's plans.
When our hero meets a beautiful woman named Tammy (Sienna Miller), he becomes
distracted, and things begin to get really complicated... like they weren't
already. The question is how much is he willing to go through in order
to accomplish his goal.
LAYER CAKE takes us deep into the criminal underworld, showing us how easy
it is to get mixed up in things no one ever wants to be involved in.
When it comes to crime, everyone has an agenda, and how you handle yourself
can decide what all you can get away with. Daniel Craig turns in an
impressive performance as the lead. He's confident yet vulnerable, and
even though he's not exactly a good guy, Craig manages to capture our hearts,
if for no other reason than watching all the crap he's put through. The
supporting cast is excellent, composed of a few recognizable actors, and many
you may not have seen before. But all the elements mesh together nicely.
Colm Meany plays Jimmy Price's right hand man, and proves he's much more
intense than we ever saw on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION or STAR
TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE. I was very impressed with George Harris, who
I'll always remember as Captain Katanga from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
He has one particularly great scene where he unleashes his temper on an old
acquaintance. Let's just say there's a Duran Duran song you'll never be
able to listen to again without remembering that moment. Michael Gambon
turns up as a big time crime boss named Eddie Temple. I love it when
Gambon plays seedy characters, and this film makes good use of him in that
type of role. Dexter Fletcher also has a nice supporting role. You
may remember him from BAND OF BROTHERS or STANDER. He's
always great, and he's great here, even if he's not in it too much.
Sienna Miller, I have to say, is pretty dang hot. One could easily think
that throwing a female interest into a crime story like this is unnecessary,
but it's done sparingly enough to not be distracting.
The film has some nice twists and turns, and holds our interest well.
It's directed by newcomer Matthew Vaughn, who recently got the job of
directing X-MEN 3. Personally I'm anxious to see what he can do
next. Vaughn has a great visual style, and proves here he can handle
many characters in a story without screwing it up. While this film may
be somewhat similar to movies like SNATCH or LOCK STOCK, it
manages to feel unique in many ways. The story is pretty involving, and
it never feels like a cheap imitation, which it easily could've been.
The nice thing about LAYER CAKE is it doesn't try to glamorize the
criminal life. It shows it like it is. These days too many films
have a tendency to make crime look cool. This flick never falls into
that trap. Right up until the end, it never candy coats what is going
on, and that's perhaps is it's most admirable trait. Daniel Craig is the
driving force behind this film's likeability. He is just really good in
this. Before seeing LAYER CAKE I had heard rumors about Craig
possibly playing James Bond, and I never quite understood why. After
watching him in this, I could definitely see him pulling it off. In fact
it could be a nice variation on the character, as he might bring a nice edge
to that character we haven't seen before. In the end LAYER CAKE
is a really cool movie. I enjoyed the story and all of the characters,
no matter how complicated some of the plot gets.
Hopefully it will get a decent run in the states, since it would be a shame
for people here to miss out on it.
BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of
1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give LAYER CAKE a 9.
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