Layer Cake

Year: 2004
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Written By: J.J. Connolly


What a cool movie, I don’t know that there is any better way to put it.  I wouldn’t really say there is actually anything new in this film.  It’s your pretty basic movie about organized crime as it operates on various different levels but doesn’t offer much in the area of provoking thought or inspiration.  It’s not short of its fair share of quality ass whoopings and clever twists but beyond being a really cool film there isn’t much here.  It has a very intricate story line with a variety of characters to keep track of.  It has a great cast but probably the most significant thing about this film is how it streamlined the career of Daniel Craig and put him into the spotlight.  He had been around forever and nobody really knew who he was but after this role everything took off for him.

Craig started acting in 1992 and played insignificant parts for nearly ten years until he got a large part in the first Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider movie. Stupid movie all around but it was a big deal for him.  I liked him in his next film Road to Perditionpossibly the last film Tom Hanks was in that was really worth a damn with few exceptions. Despite these parts I would still call Daniel Craig a relative unknown at the time.  It was his part in this movie that really made a difference for him.  While it was a completely different character, this role practically served as his audition to be the next James Bond.  It makes sense too; this movie centered completely on him and he did a great job. He’s British, wears a suit well, and looks remarkably natural pointing a gun on screen. Who else was there really to consider? Clive Owen was a popular British actor on the rise at the time but it’s easy to look back now and see how bad a choice that would have been.  I grew up watching the James Bond films and used to own every single one on VHS when I was a kid.  What young man doesn’t find himself interested in the badass super spy that sleeps with nearly every woman he encounters?  I eventually grew out of my interest in those films though, and quit watching the new ones altogether when Halle Berry was brought in.  I don’t even remember which Bond movie that was but I watched it up until a certain point and there is a joke I have always liked to tell about it.  I specifically remember Halle Berry, looking banging in a bikini, walking out of the water and onto the beach.  She walks straight up to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond and within a matter of minutes the scene has jumped to them in bed together.  Well this is what I think; when that happens, when Halle freaking Berry walks up to you in a bikini and you immediately get her into to bed there is only one thing you can do next.  Kill yourself, you have peaked in life and it’s going to be all downhill after that.  I think after you have her again and shoo her out of your room you take a long look in the mirror and accept that there really isn’t anything that will top that.  Might as well save yourself the boredom and go out on top while the sex is still in the air.  I’ve always enjoyed joking about that but for me at that time it was just too much and I was done with the Bond films.

After the success of rebooting the Batman franchise with Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale there was suddenly a lot of this on the table.  Studios started looking at characters that their audience had lost interest in and deciding to recreate them with a new approach.  I have not been a fan of every effort to reboot franchises and some of them have come so quickly off the heels of their predecessors. Most notably The Amazing Spiderman and the inevitable new Batman franchise that will be here before we know it. The Bond rebooting effort was a very successful effort and has now made a ton of money with no end to the sequels coming in the future.  I think Daniel Craig is an awesome James Bond and reminds me a lot of Roger Moore who was always my favorite (he always slept with many more woman than the others). However, I have never been able to get back into the Bond character and have just literally not been able to bring myself to sit through any of the new films or give them my full attention.  I can see all the merit on the surface, awesome Bond, great choice for M, lots of action, and more serious story lines.  Yet I just can’t do it and I’m going to accept this as my own fault because many people have told me how great these movies have been.  I have never been able to get into Casino Royale and because of this I haven’t even attempted to see either of the sequels despite what I have heard about them.  Nevertheless I am still a fan of Daniel Craig playing the part and have liked the other opportunities it has given him.  I think he is a good actor and he is a really big star now.  All of that started with The Layer Cake, a really cool movie that Craig really made the most of.

This film has many different characters in it and has a really great cast beyond Craig.  My favorite is without doubt Colm Meaney.  I have been a fan of Meaney since I was a little kid watching Star Trek with my mom.  I had no idea then that this guy would ever been more than that Irish guy beaming up Captain Picard and the landing party.  I have been completely blown away by him in recent years and love what he brings to the table as a badass.  Specifically I am thinking of his role on AMC’s Hell on Wheels, great show and great character for him.  Tom Hardy has a really big part in this movie but it’d be understandable if nobody noticed.  Despite his presence he doesn’t really say very much and when he does it’s not something you would remember.  Hardy is really on the rise now thanks in large part to Christopher Nolan for casting him so well.  I look forward to what lies ahead of him in his career. I am not really familiar with George Harris but he is such a badass in this movie playing the part of Morty.  His beat down of an old acquaintance in the diner is one of the coolest scenes in the movie and it was brilliantly filmed. I don’t know why but I can’t stand Michael Gambon and I’m not into Sienna Miller either.  Still both of them do well in this movie.

I am not necessarily a fan of Matthew Vaughn, although he is a very talented director.  After this movie, like Daniel Craig, he too started to get a lot more attention.  He had taken a large cast of many character and woven them together in an interesting story that everyone liked.  That quality made him really appealing to Fox when they were looking for someone to replace the departed Bryan Singer for director of the third X-Men movie.  Now I blame Bryan Singer for the disaster that X-Men 3 was, he had built something and then abandoned it.  Matthew Vaughn was initially chosen to direct but eventually pulled out of the project and it fell into the hands of the hack Brett Ratner.  I don’t remember why Vaughn pulled out, it may have been about spending time with his family, but I think he would have made a much better film.  I may never get over the disaster that the third X-Men movie ultimately became.  The first two films were great and on a clear cut pattern to only get better.  I have always been a huge X-Men fan and wanted so badly for the third one to be even better than X2. I have a grudge against many people I blame for the disappointment and loss I have had to endure over what happened.  It can never be fixed and I will never be able to forget about what it could have been and how great.  Shame on Bryan Singer for his awful mistake, and while Vaughn isn’t really at fault here I can’t help but hold it against him either. It’s an irrational judgment I know, but those happen in the wake of such devastating disappointment.

I’ve managed to write a lot without saying much of anything about this film but it’s just not one that I think inspires a lot of thought.  It’s a good movie and I like the ending.  I think it’s a clear cut message that crime doesn’t pay and nobody ever wins.  It can completely blindside you too because it comes out of nowhere, great ending.  I like the fact that we never learn the name of Craig’s character and how you barely even notice that until he turns to the camera and acknowledges it. This movie is based on a novel I have never read but if anybody reading this has read it I would really like to hear how it compares if you want to leave a comment.

If you have ever seen a film about crime then you won’t really find anything new here, it’s fairly typical as such things go.  Despite that the movie is really cool and offers plenty to enjoy.  I am usually a fan of crime movies because it is such a fascinating world.  If you enjoy movies about organized crime then you will like this one.  While I may think it is pretty basic, it was made exceedingly well and I think it is without doubt worth your time to see.


This movie is pretty entertaining, but isn’t anything new. I think the creator grew up loving action movies and did a pretty good job of incorporating those ideas and themes into this film. I think you should see it if you haven’t it is worth watching, but it isn’t anything really special.


I actually think cool is a really good word to use for this poster. I like the color combination although it is used a little but too much for this type of movie. (Kill Bill, The Italian Job) But overall it’s pretty cool. The typography is my favorite part. Unbalanced and well proportioned. This poster is up there with some of my absolute favorites.

NEXT MOVIE: Legends of the Fall (1994)

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