Layer Cake ★★★
Matthew Vaughn, formerly Guy Ritchie’s producer, has carved a credible niche as a director, bringing the likes of knowing fantasy Stardust, dazzling superhero fable Kick-Ass, Marvel reboot X-Men: First Class and spy caper Kingsman: The Secret Service to our screens. But Layer Cake is where it all began in 2004. Adapted by JJ Connolly from his own novel, it looked likely to be an unpromising addition to the already swollen British gangster genre. But it actually has a lot going for it: a moody central performance by Daniel Craig as an unnamed coke dealer entangled in a kidnap/blackmail plot just when he is planning to retire; cool, unhurried direction from Vaughn; and some nice blackly comic visual flourishes, including an iron left sizzling on the bodywork of a yellow Range Rover. Foodies be warned: there is no actual cake involved – the title here is simply a metaphor used by mob boss Michael Gambon.
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