Welcome to the Layer Cake, son...
Layer Cake is a film released in 2004. When a film markets itself with the tagline "By the people who brought you Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels", you realise that you are about to receive a rather big serving of "gimme some more, jack".
"But 'ang on a minute", I hear you think - "Didn't we already have a second helping, in the form of Snatch"? well, as a matter of fact we did, and, in fact, the people who brought you lock stock also brought you Snatch, so the tagline is, in fact, completely rubbish.
Unlike the film, luckily.
Layer Cake is the story of mr X (throughout the entire film, you actually never find out the lead character's name. It is clever, clever indeed), who is a big-shot in the London cocaine underworld. He wants to make a shitload of money, and then walk away, so he can live off what he has made.
Based on the book and re-written for screen by J.J. Connolly (the guy who played the bookie in Mean Machine), Layer Cake is a true gangster story, as the tagline reminds you. However, the production team has done away with Madonna's loverboy Guy Richie, and have instead let the producer of Snatch and Lock stock, Matthew Vaughn take the reins. "Matthew who"? Exactly - his primary claim to fame is the fact that he produced the first two films, and then married Claudia Schiffer.
Vaughn does a good job in this film. A few of the trademark cuts from Lock Stock and Snatch (two of my favourite films) remain, but overall, I couldn't help being struck by how polished this film is. The cinematography is not anything that hasn't been done before, but it is a good piece of craft overall. The story is what really drives this film forward: - a welcome change over the two predecessors, which were interesting enough, but were more of a style-over-substance ride of cinematographic bling than good old storytelling.
In a plot that is less testosterone-driven than you would be led to believe by the trailers, the movie has some excellent twists and turns - some blatantly predictable, others baffling, amusing or just plain clever.
In the film, The main character (played brilliantly by the surprisingly tasty Daniel Craig) is ordered by the big-cat crimeboss mr Price (Kenneth Cranham) to sell a big batch of nearly a million tablets (presumably ecstasy) that were stolen at gun-point from a group of serbians in Amsterdam by The Duke (Jamie Foreman).
Some of the plotlines are left hanging in the air seemingly unsolved, while others are picked up at unlikely points. Some times the good script cannot save the bad actors they have put in some roles. Other times, the at times brilliant acting cannot save the rather crummy dialogue. But overall, it is an enjoyable film.
The movie is more thorough and "proper" than its two predecessors, and therefore probably less memorable. But no less enjoyable, and certainly recommended if you have an hour and a half to waste.