Layer Cake

Layer Cake

**

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The formula comes off the peg: Cockney villains, with Scouse backup; language is f-in' everythin'; goods are drugs and birds don't feature much, except for a foul-mouthed bint and a sexy blonde in black lace undies.

The story's bollocks, incomprehensible bollocks. Honour amongst thieves? Don't be bloody silly!

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The latest piece of gangland roughage is suitably violent, with a who-gives-a-monkeys attitude. Daniel Craig ponces about in well cut suits, or pressed jeans, looking dangerously cool as the dealer who has it all sussed until some jerk called Duke (Jamie Foreman) sticks him in it with a Serbian mob from Amsterdam.

"Life is so good," he says. "I can taste it in my spit."

Well, ever heard of pear shaped? Listen and learn, my son. When Duke shows up with a million quid's worth of happy pills, stolen at Uzi point from Dragan, a Balkan hard man, who specialises in leaving his enemies headless, the London mob had better wipe that smile off their ugly mugs.

The only thing missing in Matthew Vaughn's debut is Ray Winstone. Instead, you have Craig playing Winstone, Graham Cranham playing himself, Michael Gambon playing Richard Harris, with an assortment of eccentric support staff. No one can be trusted. When money's involved expect ketchup on the pizza, only this isn't a Mafia movie, it's a homegrown robbers-and-robbers shoot-'em-up.

Financed by Columbia Pictures, Layer Cake is a Hollywood repro. "If you have to kill someone, " Colm Meaney says. "Never, ever, tell a living soul." He does, of course. Otherwise, where's the story? Drugs, paranoia, double cross, no cops (surprisingly). It's all in the mix.

What, you may well ask, is new? Don't spoil the party. Sit back and be battered into submission. For a film that is supposed to be in the Lock, Stock tradition, there is no humour. The narrative voice-over gives it literary gloss, as if language can plug the holes in the plot.

The secret is empathy. Without it, tough guys can't dance.

Reviewed on: 01 Oct 2004
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Cockney drug dealer become enmeshed in gang war over stolen happy pills.
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Read more Layer Cake reviews:

Stephen Carty ****1/2

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writer: J J Connolly, based on the novel by J J Connolly

Starring: Daniel Craig, Kenneth Cranham, Colm Meaney, Jamie Foreman, Michael Gambon, Dexter Fletcher, Burn Gorman, Tom Hardy, Tamer Hassan, Sally Hawkins, Darren Healy, Nathalie Lunghi, Sienna Miller, Peter Rvic

Year: 2004

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

Festivals:

Sundance 2005

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