Anthony's Film Review
Layer Cake (2004)
Layer Cake is a bit convoluted, but the grittiness makes it a thrilling crime movie...
Daniel Craig, the star of the 2004 British crime thriller Layer Cake, does a pretty job playing it cool but tough in his role as a nameless drug dealer (identified as "XXXX" in the closing credits). In a voiceover during the beginning of the movie, he gives us a glimpse into the underworld drug trade, talking about it like a slick job recruiter. According to him, drugs will be in every store shelf, and those working in the trade, if careful, will become rich beyond imagination. XXXX manages to do this so well that he finally decides to retire and live comfortably in luxury.
Unfortunately, he has to wait on that. He is asked to find a missing young woman, the daughter of one of the drug dealers in the cartel. It sounds simple enough, so XXXX calls on a few friends to help out with that. Things get complicated when he also has to deal with an ill-tempered drug dealer and a situation involving a sale of Ecstasy pills. From there, things get even MORE complicated, not to mention twisted, because XXXX will eventually discover what is really going on.
For me, the plot may be interesting, but it's the performances of the cast and the scenes being so hard-boiled that caught my attention. For one thing, Daniel Craig is a rather interesting person. He hates guns, and yet has no problem being a tough-talker. That's not to say he never gets involved in violent situations where he gets beaten or commits murder. He has no hesitation with such things. If there's any light in this story, it's the presence of Sienna Miller as an attractive girlfriend of another character who finds herself seeking an affair with XXXX.
Meanwhile, various other supporting characters show how brutal and deadly the drug underworld can be. The ill-tempered drug dealer I mentioned, known as The Duke, is someone who could easily open his mouth so wide and expose the entire cartel. There are characters who have no problem beating one another, as exemplified by a horrendous beating in a cafe that ends with hot tea being poured over the victim's face. Then there's the people at the top, particularly Michael Gambon as Eddie Temple. This is a man who looks like any well-mannered aristocrat, if one knew nothing about his secret connections with the drug trade.
If you love hard-hitting crime thrillers centering on drug dealers, Layer Cake may take the cake (pun intended). If you love actors who play tough characters in dangerous situations, Layer Cake can deliver just that. For me, the movie was simply a thrill ride into a world that I would never ever want to step into in real life, and I enjoyed the performances of Daniel Craig and the rest of the cast. My rating for Layer Cake is between all right (6 out of 10) and awesome (10 out of 10). Not the best movie I've seen, but still good.
For more information about Layer Cake, visit the Internet Movie Database.