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Meltdown: The Rise and Fall of a 'Good' Criminal

  • Aug 24, 2005
LAYER CAKE is a film to be watched with all of your senses alert: it is best viewed after a caffeine jag, or way before bedtime as it demands full attention to follow this circuitous and at times meandering plot. You have to work at this one but in the end the work pays off - sort of.

To begin with the main character (Daniel Craig) is a nameless 'good criminal' middleman working quietly producing Ecstasy pills. His motto is work small, stay quiet, pay your people on time, and get out when you can. The remainder of the story is how our nameless 'hero' becomes insidiously involved in the various layers of his chosen crime of drug trafficking and the results of his blood-streaked rise to the top layer of the cake. There are so many characters involved in this story (each well acted, tidy cameos) that soon you lose track of who's who and who just got whacked. It is a violent climb to the top and a surprise ending that in retrospect should have seemed apparent.

Daniel Craig plays his heart out with this character and he is joined by such luminaries as Michael Gambon and Colm Meany in pulling off a pulsating crime drama. Yes, it is in the same realm as 'The Usual Suspects' and other British wham bang high-density flicks. The goods are delivered - but the question arises as to who cares? Perfect for this genre, but keep the coffee brewing lest you let your attention lag. Grady Harp, August 05

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More Layer Cake reviews
review by . June 26, 2007
"Layer Cake" was slightly entertaining but fell flat for me. I still have to give credit to film director Matthew Vaughn for his first feature film. He made a name for himself producing the crime-comedy classics "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch". Vaughn abandons the cheeky and comedic nature of those two films and attempts to make a serious crime film. The results are decidedly uneven, as the movie is a stylish but hollow outing.    In here we have XXX (Daniel …
review by . December 04, 2005
I bought "Layer Cake" for three reasons:    1) I heard it was great.  2) It sounded great.  3) I'm a big James Bond fan, so I thought I'd get an idea of what Daniel Craig will be like.    I had no idea it would be so good.    Daniel Craig plays XXXX - a nameless drug dealer who is preparing to retire. Then the problems just drop in his lap - crime boss Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) wants the impossible, reckless drug …
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Grady Harp ()
Ranked #96
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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About this movie


As its title suggests,Layer Cakeis a crime thriller that cuts into several levels of its treacherous criminal underworld. The title is actually one character's definition of the drug-trade hierarchy, but it's also an apt metaphor for the separate layers of deception, death, and betrayal experienced by the film's unnamed protagonist, a cocaine traffic middle-man played with smooth appeal by Daniel Craig (rumored at the time of this film's release to be on the short list for consideration as the next James Bond). Listed in the credits only as "XXXX," the character is trapped into doing a favor for his volatile boss, only to have tables turned by his boss's boss (Michael Gambon) in a twisting plot involving a stolen shipment of Ecstasy, a missing girl, duplicitous dealers, murderous Serbian gangsters, and a variety of lowlifes with their own deadly agendas. As adapted by J.J. Connolly (from his own novel) and directed by Matthew Vaughan (who earned his genre chops as producer of Guy Ritchie'sLock, Stock, and Two Smoking BarrelsandSnatch),Layer Cakeimproves upon those earlier British gangland hits with assured pacing, intelligent plotting, and an admirable emphasis on plot-moving dialogue over routine action. Sure, it's violent (that's to be expected) and not always involving, but it's smarter than most thrillers, and Vaughan's directorial debut has a confident style that's flashy without being flamboyant. This could be the ...
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