Beginning with a voice-over that provides cheeky insightinto the savvy it takes to stay ahead in Britain's organized-crime drugtrade, he sets the stage for a story full of unexpected sharp edges thatmake it increasingly unlikely his character will ever reach his statedgoal of early retirement.
"You know why people like you can't leave this business?You make too much money for people like me," says Craig's boss (KennethCranham), an uncouth kingpin who puts on country-club airs as he intimidatesour anonymous hero (whose name is never mentioned) into a job way out ofhis depth -- hunting down an associate's sexy, strung-out missing daughter.
But the girl is barely a jumping-off point for the stimulatinglybyzantine plot of "Layer Cake," in which one stupid mistake byan irresponsibly flashy small-time associate who calls himself "TheDuke" (Jamie Foreman) begins a domino effect of revelations, double-crosses,paybacks and bursts of violence -- all of which come tumbling down on Craig'shead.
Directed with agile, sharp-witted panache by Matthew Vaughn(producer of "Snatch" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels")-- and given a suave visual signature by production designer Kave Quinn("Trainspotting"),editor Jon Harris ("Snatch")and cinematographer Ben Davis -- "Layer Cake" is a feast of cunningfilmmaking.
But it's also a tour de force for Craig, whose nameis now being bandied about as a possible successor to the role of JamesBond. He does a sublime job of inviting you into his character's head,first with his pointedly wry opening narration, then with his ability tosubtly show how his nerves are further frayed each time he's sideswipedby escalating twists that will bury him if he doesn't turn the tables onsomeone but quick.
"Layer Cake" can be eye-crossingly complex attimes -- I think I need to see it again to fully wrap my head around itsmany tiers of duplicity. But then, the film is so succulently crafty andtantalizing I want to see it again anyway.
Run time: 105 mins
In Theaters: Friday 1st October 2004
Box Office USA: $2.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $2.3M
Distributed by: Sony Classics
Production compaines: Sony Pictures Entertainment, Marv Films
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 109 Rotten: 26
IMDB: 7.4 / 10
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Daniel Craig as XXXX, Colm Meaney as Gene, George Harris as Morty, Sally Hawkins as Slasher, Kenneth Cranham as Jimmy Price, Jamie Foreman as Duke, Sienna Miller as Tammy, Michael Gambon as Eddie Temple, Ben Whishaw as Sidney, Dragan Mićanović as Dragan, Tom Hardy as Clarkie, Stephen Walters as Shanks, Louis Emerick as Trevor, Dexter Fletcher as Cody, Tamer Hassan as Terry, Jason Flemyng as Larry - Crazy