The film that made Daniel Craig Bond, is a common perception of the 2004 film Layer Cake. This is pretty much true but due to the clear influences from the Bond franchise in Matthew Vaughn’s film debut. In Layer Cake, Craig plays our unnamed, cool, sophisticated protagonist – should have just called him Bond – cocaine dealer who is asked to find and bring back a gangsters drug addicted daughter who’s seemingly disappeared with her drug addicted lover. Out of his depth, Mr X (Craig) soon realises that there is more to the finding of the girl than meets the eye and he is suddenly thrown into a dangerous game of drug control and robbery to start a new life for himself.
Layer Cake is an intelligent and witty film. However, it is very complex and becomes confusing when multiple narratives intertwine with the main narrative. I cease to find someone who fully understands the entire film on the first watch, although it is just as exciting each time you watch it so don’t let that put you off. Craig plays his charming character with the same attitude he plays his iconic interpretation of James Bond. He is a smooth womaniser, an alpha-male and a suave man about London who will go to any length to get his jobs accomplished. Most people define North by Northwest as the first Bond film due to it following the conventions of the franchise; Layer Cake acts as Craig’s first Bond film, almost Bond’s origins story.
Craig is supported by a strong and well collaborated supporting cast. Ben Whishaw – our new Q in the Bond world – plays bumbling idiot Sidney with a loveable humour, while Sienna Miller acts as seductress Tammy with a witty coolness, reflecting qualities of a traditional Bond Girl. Michael Gambon appears as a bronze tanned gangster with some great lines of dialogue, showing he’s not only awesome as Dumbledore, while Colm Meaney brings sophistication and coolness to his role as Gene.
Vaughn soars high with his debut film working with a tremendous cast to reinvent the British gangster film; Guy Richie should take some advice from his former producer on how to make a memorable modern gangster epic. Praise also deserves to handed to cinematographer Ben Davis who works wonders capturing the essence of England. So many British films are churned out where England looks one of the worst places to live: Davis works well with Vaughn to capture realism, making England a place where you’d actually want to live… Yes, there are some parts set in grim locations, but that’s due to the tone of the film and the themes being dealt with.
The film fulfils its purpose to excite the audience, mainly due to editor Jon Harris’s craft for pitch perfect editing, and Vaughn has proven himself as a modern great in the film industry, soaring to new highs directing X Men First Class and Kick-Ass. Layer Cake will be helmed a contemporary British classic for many years to come, setting a high bar for anyone wanting to challenge the genre.