Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Movie Review: Layer Cake

I had the pleasure of sitting down with this little film the other night. I was in the mood for a gritty British drug/crime film, and this fit the bill nicely. Here is the summary from IMDB.com for the film:


“Based upon JJ Connelly's London crime novel, "LAYER CAKE" is about a successful cocaine dealer (DANIEL CRAIG) who has earned a respected place among England's Mafia elite and 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 neo-Nazi sect and a whole series of double crossings. The title "LAYER CAKE" refers to the layers or levels the dealer has to go through as he painstakingly plots his own escape. 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 drugs ring, threaten to draw him back into the 'cake mix'. But, time is running out and the penalty will endure a lifetime…”


I first learned who Daniel Craig was when I heard he was going to be the new James Bond. I must say, the first time I saw him I was less then pleased. I just didn’t think he looked the part. However, after watching him in Layer Cake I can see why the picked him, he’s perfect. Craig has the ability to seem real, subtle, and intense at the same time on camera. He takes a character, which is stuck in events the common person, thank God, will never have to deal with, but portrays him in a manner that makes the viewer able to emphasize with him. I’d love to tell you what the name of Craig’s character is in the film, but you never learn that. In the credits he’s simply referred to as XXXX.


The supporting cast for the film is rock solid as well. George Harris, who plays Morty, is a very intense Indian born actor who has lived in the UK for some time. I don’t know much about him but he’s great in this movie and easily one of my favorite characters. Colm Meany, of Star Trek fame, plays Gene and is remarkable as well. He’s an old school intense gangster who works with Craig’s character, even though he has his own agenda. Sienna Miller plays the love interest for Craig, even though she’s in like a total of 5 minutes of the film. Those 5 minutes are smoking though. Rounding out the cast are Michael Gambon, who plays Eddie Temple, and Kenneth Cranham, who plays Jimmy. These two are the chief villains and the archetype for British gangster bad guys, really really solid stuff.


I’d give Layer Cake an 8.5 out of 10. The final scene is a perfect ending for the movie, which keeps you guessing nonstop for the last 30 minutes, “The king is dead, long live the king,” is a filling tribute for XXXX as things wrap up. If you can deal with the hard to follow British dialogue at times, this is a worthy flick to catch on a lazy Sunday.





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