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Director & Producer: Matthew Vaughn

Screenplay: J.J. Connolly, who adapted his own novel of the same title.

Cast: Daniel Craig, Colm Meaney, Kenneth Cranham, George Harris, Jamie Foreman, Sienna Miller, Michael Gambon

Running Length: Color, approx 106 minutes
MPAA Classification: R

Genre: parts Thriller, Gangster, Revenge, and Caper

Reviewed by Jim Lewis

Mr. X (Daniel Craig) is a smooth-operating big-time drug dealer. As he takes steps to begin his retirement, he meets resistance--everywhere he turns. During my enjoyable second viewing, I began to think of his situation as "between a rock and a hard place." Then two, three or four hard places. 

Mr. X--We never learn his name, but don't notice until the end--gives some pointers for successful dealing, including "Don't deal with small time, upward mobile thugs." Then we see why. Oh. Don't steal from groups wanted by the United Nations for genocide. He left that one out, but I'd have put that one on my list. Craig's character appears to be surrounded by people looking to him with different agendas and limited options for dealing with disappointment.

Like "Goodfellas," "Layer Cake" is engrossing, but doesn't glamorize the included criminals. There is a fair amount of killing, and some of it's pretty clearly whimsical, not an advertisement for job security.

Colm Meaney is his usual perfect tough cohort, Sienna Miller is gorgeous trouble, and providing criminal royalty and mentorship is Michael Gambon as an opposing gang chieftain.

Matthew Vaughn produced "Snatch," and "Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." In this, his first directing effort, he decided to step away from those two, more humorous, action fests. Vaughn, speaking in his DVD interview, said he actually left much humor on the cutting room floor (see "deleted scenes" on the DVD.) 

I like the movie. Perhaps a different ending would be nice. Despite my grumbling, I liked the movie as I remember it, and didn't even watch the deleted scenes. The DVD does contain two alternate endings, which I did check out, so you get to choose your favorite.


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