L4yer Cake | B+

director: Matthew Vaughn
starring: Daniel Craig, Jamie Foreman, George Harris, Colm Meaney, Sienna Miller
Layer Cake In the tradition of movies like Guy Ritchie’s Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake tells the story of a Brit drug dealer/money launderer (known only as “XXXX”) on the cusp of retirement who gets in way over his head when he’s told to broker one last deal for 5 million Ecstacy pills. Much like the aformentioned Ritchie movies, Layer Cake’s got all the standards you’d like to see out of a European crime flick:

  • indecipherable dialogue delivered with typical British aplomb (I’ve always wanted to use “aplomb” in a sentence).
  • Lots of cigar-smoking.
  • A convoluted plot that you tell everyone else you understand just so you can sound sophisticated, but in reality you have no earthly idea what’s going on (I think it’s mainly because of the accents, as stated above).
  • A crazy guy (or two) who looks like they smell bad.
  • This guy:
    That Guy
  • A smokin’ hot chick way out of the protagonist’s league (Sienna Miller–start your Googling).
  • A bit of the old ultra-violence.
  • Solid, unique direction.

It’s the last item I was most impressed with. Fitting that I compare Layer Cake with Snatch and Lock, Stock, as Vaughn was a producer on both. Layer Cake marks his first directorial outing and he hits it out of the park, as far as I’m concerned. His direction is often reminiscent of a highbrow car commercial, with a lot of sweeping crane shots and helicopter zooms and all manner of funky camera angles, but unlike most car commercials, it’s neither irritating nor disorienting. It works perfectly for the subject matter. Vaughn had been rumored as a director for X-Men 3 for a while, and I think that would’ve resulted in a far greater film than Brett “I Clearly Have a Massive Cocaine Habit” Ratner likely turned out. But I digress. Vaughn’s first outing as director is a success, and I eagerly await his next venture into the field.

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