Directed by Matthew
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
by Donald Melanson
| You can probably count on one hand the number of reviews
of Layer Cake that don't either compare it to Guy Ritchie's
Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,
or talk about its star Daniel Craig as a strong possibility to
succeed Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. In case you're keeping track,
this review is not one of them.
The comparison to the two Ritchie films is a fair one, since
Layer Cake's director, Matthew Vaughn, was the producer
for both of those movies (though most people seem to forget he
also produced Ritchie's Madonna-starring Swept Away). With
Layer Cake, Vaughn obviously borrows from Ritchie's slick
visual style, although he drops a lot of the humour, replacing
it with a much cooler demeanor.
Craig plays a man with no name who is lured away from an early
retirement as a drug dealer by his boss, Jimmy Price, to find
the daughter of Jimmy's boss, Eddie Temple. There's also the matter
of one million ecstasy pills he has to deal with.
In a sense, however, it's two MacGuffins
for the price of one, as it's not the goal that's important but
the getting there. And in the case of Layer Cake, the getting
there is an intense and intricate affair, not to mention a lot
I don't think it's giving away too much to say that at one point
or another, most of the major characters in Layer Cake
are either double-crossed or think they've been double-crossed.
Which of course means that each of those characters also gets
to enact a bit of revenge in one form or another (it is a gangster
film after all).
The supporting cast is especially strong, with Michael Gambon
as the aforementioned top-of-the-cake Eddie Temple and George
Harris and Colm Meany (in a role a far cry from his familiar Star
Trek persona) as two of Craig's associates.
Craig himself gives a very impressive and understated performance,
and it's easy to see why there's been so much speculation about
the Bond role. But given his performance here, and his role in
Steven Spielberg's highly anticipated (and likely Oscar shoe-in)
Munich, he certainly doesn't need it for a career boost.
Also, as is almost expected with this type of movie, Layer
Cake makes great use of music, although it's reliance on popular
hits from bands like The Cult and Duran Duran reminded me more
of Grand Theft Auto than Tarantino.
Sony Pictures' DVD comes loaded with about as much as you could
expect from a single-disc release, including a commentary track
with Vaughn and screenwriter J.J. Connolly, a short promotional
featurette, a half-hour interview with Vaughn and Daniel Craig,
16 deleted scenes (with optional director's commentary), storyboard
comparisons, a poster gallery, and a couple of trailers (although,
oddly, not one for Layer Cake itself). All that plus a
great widescreen transfer and a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 audio
Melanson is the editor-in-chief of Mindjack and a freelance
writer for hire.
In addition to Mindjack, his work has appeared in The
Globe & Mail, Engadget,
and MovieMaker Magazine.