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Layer Cake - Foreign Film Review

Joe Yang

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Synopsis: Daniel Craig plays an unnamed, successful drug dealer who keeps a low profile, does dependable business for those above him, and works with a tight, loyal crew. He pays his debts on time and keeps his promises, and after several years, he decides to cash out and quit the business. But his boss Jimmy (Kenneth Cranham) forces him to stay on to do a few extra favors. One is to find a girl who's gone missing, and another is to sell a large shipment of high-quality ecstasy supplied by a guy called The Duke (Jamie Foreman). The Duke is an unstable maniac, and Craig immediately has misgivings about doing business with him.

What's more, The Duke has apparently gotten a hold of the ecstasy by extremely reckless means. As a result, he's made enemies with Dragan (Dragan Micanovic), a notorious Serbian drug boss. Being the blathering idiot that he is, The Duke spreads the word that he's working with Daniel Craig's character, and soon Dragan sets his sights on our hero. But the escalating troubles and twists all turn out to be part of an elaborate set-up and series of double-crosses masterminded in part by Eddie Temple (Michael Gambon - Albus Dumbledore in the later Harry Potter movies).

Craig then finds that he and his closest associates, Morty (George Harris) and Gene (Colm Meaney - well known to US audiences as transporter Chief O'Brien from Star Trek: TNG) must continually stay one step ahead of all the villains as they plan a deal that will mean the difference between life. . . and life in prison.

The Good: Slick, exciting, and unpredictable, Layer Cake is a smart action movie that's a lot of fun. The film has a cool, confident feel that never loses its edge and never resorts to over-the-top antics despite the violent subject matter. Daniel Craig strikes the perfect balance between refined and rough-and-tumble, and the supporting players are all very convincing as well.

Sienna Miller's role is small, but she is no doubt great to look at while Craig sports some really nice suits that seem to have carried over into his James Bond films.

British slang and vocabulary that we Americans aren't accustomed to will most likely add another dimension of coolness to this movie, and it's a refreshing break from Hollywood stuff. Thoroughly entertaining and well-made, Layer Cake is a stylish movie that will make you sympathize with the anti-hero without making you want to become a drug dealer yourself.

The Bad: As with many British films released in the US, it'll be a little hard for American audiences to understand some of the regional UK accents right away.

Who would like this movie: Fans of action films will like Layer Cake, and it will especially appeal to those looking for an exciting movie that requires more thinking. You have to pay attention to what happens in this flick because it's relatively complicated. This is one for aficionados of foreign films as well, but should appeal to a pretty broad group of 18-34 year-olds.

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Daniel Craig, Colm Meaney, George Harris, Michael Gambon, Kenneth Cranham, Jamie Foreman, Sienna Miller, Dragan Micanovic
Year: 2004

(3 out of 4 stars)

Joe Yang is a freelance film reviewer specializing in foreign films. You can find more of his reviews at his new website:

The site is often updated- please visit often!


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