Sony Pictures Classics | Release Date: May 13, 2005
8.8
USER SCORE
Universal acclaim based on 206 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
184
Mixed:
15
Negative:
7
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6
ZigmundZ.Apr 14, 2006
Failed to grab me in the first ten minutes, which is always a bad sign. Scorsese or Tarantino wannabe. Craig is excellent, but, my God, we've seen this before, done much better. Film has a feel of trying really hard to be outrageous and Failed to grab me in the first ten minutes, which is always a bad sign. Scorsese or Tarantino wannabe. Craig is excellent, but, my God, we've seen this before, done much better. Film has a feel of trying really hard to be outrageous and irreverantly shocking, but just comes off as being mundane and boring. Watch Trainspotting or Reservoir Dogs again, you'll be better off. Expand
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6
HenryWDec 18, 2005
It's got a good level of ambience but it feels far too smug. The plot seems to have been Snatched from Carlito's Way as well.
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6
SpangleFeb 23, 2017
A sleek, stylish, and gritty gangster crime thriller from director Matthew Vaughn, Layer Cake is a pretty damn good film. In a truly charismatic turn, Daniel Craig stars as the nameless protagonist. Looking to get out of the drug business,A sleek, stylish, and gritty gangster crime thriller from director Matthew Vaughn, Layer Cake is a pretty damn good film. In a truly charismatic turn, Daniel Craig stars as the nameless protagonist. Looking to get out of the drug business, our hero gets caught between stolen Serbian drugs and the search for a girl strung out on drugs and hanging with bad company. A pretty straight forward crime film, Layer Cake is flawed and a bit messy at times, but has terrific kinetic energy that keeps it going. Layer Cake may not convince me Matthew Vaughn is a very good director (Kingsman can die in a fire), but it is another surprisingly good entry in his filmography.

Starring Craig as XXXX, the unnamed gangster, the film's biggest fault is its plot lacks resolution. He is hired to find this girl and the film forgets about her. He begins to have sex with Sienna Miller, but gets pulled out of the room and then it jumps to him leaving a country club with her at the end. Many of the film's plot elements are just skimmed through, names get jumbled up, or events and people are simply forgotten. Vaughn tries to string these together quite loosely and it only slightly works out at times. Fortunately, its energy and action allow you to forget about the plot a bit, but it hurts because then there is very little meat on the film's bones. The characters, regardless of sex, are useless. This is one of the film's biggest problems. While its style is nice, the same cannot be said for a pretty run-of-the-mill script that feels like a rehash of Snatch or Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. The fact that Vaughn was a producer on those films is hardly a surprise considering how similar the style is between this film and those Guy Ritchie films. That said, the poor characterization and lack of plot cohesiveness is hardly too detrimental, it just prevents the film from being better.

What is quite detrimental for Layer Cake is its shaky cam. I hate shaky cam. Using shaky cam through a lot of the action scenes, it was annoying and disorienting. Shaky cam is used in one of the most climactic portions of the film and it is a real buzzkill, leaving the sequence with no tension and, in its place, annoyance and a headache. That said, it is an exception as most of the film does not rely on shaky cam, thankfully. Unfortunately, it only makes that one sequence all the more jarring and horrible to watch, as the film has hardly prepared the viewer to take it all in via shaky cam.

That said, the film's plot is quite tense and thrilling at times. Even if its characters lack definition, they are quite engaging to watch and provide interest in the film. The complex and always changing plot is more than engaging and leaves the audience guessing throughout. While hardly original, there are enough moving parts that keep you distracted and focused on the intrigue and more engaging bits of the plot, namely the impending arrival of the Serbian mafia threatening XXXX's life. While diversions into his love life are unwelcome and the film can outdo itself at time, the plot - for a run-of-the-mill gangster action thriller - is hardly anything I can complain about.

All in all, Layer Cake is a fine film. It is unoffensive and palatable. Well-directed and incredibly stylish, it has its flaws, but it is a largely fun experience that simply lacks any mean or substance. For action junkies or people who like films of this kind, it will more than quench your thirst. For those who like some more meat on their films, Layer Cake may leave you quite cool and under the mistaken belief that there had to be more to this film than was shown. Fortunately, even for the latter group, the cool and charismatic Daniel Craig more than saves the film and helps to contribute to a film, while disposable, is more than entertaining and is great popcorn entertainment.
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