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Piece Of Cake

Layer Cake

Plot Overview

A heavily scripted “Layer Cake” opens with a London native played by Daniel Craig recounting, “When I was born the world was a far simpler place.” He quickly moves on to the sixties: “Then came the Summer of Love,” telling us, “Drugs. Changed. Everything.” He moved into the cocaine business staying ahead of anticipated legalization, “mak[ing] hay while the sun shines.” As a care­ful middle­man he minimizes his risk, “Always work[ing] in small teams. Keep[ing] a low profile.”

Meanwhile, to move the plot along, one of his end distributors Duke (Jamie Foreman) and his ditsy girl­friend Slasher (Sally Hawkins) are adventuring in Amsterdam.

Our successful mid-level cocaine dealer has a cover business: Values & Surveyors. He confides in us that, “Barring any fuckups, I'm leaving it all behind.” Early retirement, he's about to “leave quietly forever.” But first drugs king­pin Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) cannot be refused a request (“I need a favor.”) He wants him to find the daughter of a dear friend who's “done a runner from a drug rehabili­tation clinic.” If that's not his line, it's a fool's errand anyway.

Meanwhile a Serbian gang in Amsterdam has attached our narrator to that other foolishness and has sent their enforcer, assassin Dragan (Dragan Micanovic) after him. Jimmy wants him to move the stolen shipment that competing factions get into a bidding war over while the Serbs want it back. Add to that various remoras: some rum help (“Crazy Larry was gay”), a personal vendetta that becomes a “joint venture,” some hasty gun­fire (“If you have to kill some­one, never ever tell a living soul”), his book­keeper Mr. Singh who's disappeared holding all his assets, and one more high level player, and we figure there's no way this guy can juggle all these factors and survive.

But he'll demonstrate, “The art of good business is being a good middle­man, putting people together,” so he's set to retire after all (“Have a plan. Stick to it”) despite openings above him (“The king is dead. Long live the king.”)


“Welcome to the Layer Cake” is an unabashed metaphor of the drug business cake analogy in which a middle­man finds the foundation layer crumbling beneath him, the top layer pressuring him from above, and shifty middle layers sliding around, not to mention the overly rich icing of a femme fatale named Tammy (Sienna Miller). With aplomb the master chef stabilizes the confection with a few tooth­picks, but whether he'll enjoy his dessert, “barring any fuckups,” is portended by the play his boss saw: “The Damnation of Faust” that “ends in tears.” The word is, (Eccl. 6:1-2) “There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof.” There being multiple endings to this movie, some of them undoubtedly are not happy ones.

Production Values

“Layer Cake” (2004) was directed by Matthew Vaughn, and it was written by J.J. Connolly based on his novel, Layer Cake. The film version is heavy on dialogue. It stars Daniel Craig, Sienna Miller, and Michael Gambon. It also features Colm Meaney, George Harris, Jamie Foreman, Marcel Iures, Tom Hardy, Ben Whishaw, Dexter Fletcher, Sally Hawkins, Jason Flemyng, Burn Gorman, and Tamer Hassan. Daniel Craig is not much a one for narrating cold, so he narrates over the action. This film is where he was discovered as James Bond material. The actors all held up following a fast pace.

MPAA rated this movie R for strong brutal violence, sexuality, nudity, pervasive language and drug use. There's such a frenzy of characters minor and major that it's hard to follow the plot although easy enough to follow the momentum, so it works just the same. Nobody has a chance to enjoy his privacy. The title first appears below a room number:
Layer Cake
I don't know if that was the number of layers, but there were a lot of them. It was filmed mostly in England with some brief scenes shot in Amsterdam. A helicopter shot gives it dimension. British pop songs play in the background. The camera work is superb.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

It helps to pay attention because one can easily miss parts of what's happening. The important thing, though, is the unnamed protagonist keeps his eyes on all the balls he's juggling, so we get a good show regard­less. I liked the movie, but I'm easy to please. If you're picky and you miss stuff, it would be easy to blame the picture.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed fun Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.