Forgotten Drugs Movies #1: Layer Cake

7 months ago

There’s much positive to be said about this Matthew Vaughn movie.


Although it can be summarized to mostly 3, maybe 4 points. Yet it is a movie which definitely deserves more popularity and should rank higher. For once I am actually tempted to give Rotten Tomatoes props for its rating for a movie, because +80 is deserved. Especially given that is was Vaughn’s directorial debut.

Enough Already... What’s Good About It?

  1. The best opening monologue in a movie
  2. The reason why Daniel Craig became Bond
  3. Sienna Miller rubbing her...

Bonus: Michael Gambon.

The Plot

Craig, XXXX or ‘narrator’ if you have any special affinities with the Wachowskis and the Matrix, plans to retire after a successful career as a [cocaine] drugs dealer. Of course, if things would be that easy we could as well just go classic and pick up Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot with an IQ below 90 and totally not get it. The experience would be the same.

Luckily plots require a little more and things aren’t that easy. You can’t just retire from the syndicate like that. Especially not if the director’s previous production credits included Lock, Stock, Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. We won’t mention the Golden Raspberry for Worst Picture with Swept Away though.


Unless you think that a thriller directorial debut should have you on the edge of your seat like Vincenzo’s Natali’s cult debut Cube, the common classification crime thriller applies to Layer Cake. Now, I think that a thriller should indeed be a mindfrak and in true Vaughn style, I lean more towards classifying Layer Cake as action comedy. Not as comedic or active as Lethal Weapon or Hot Shots though.

Then again, who would expect that from any movie starring Michael Gambon anyway.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that depending on how mellow or dark you are, it’s an entertaining movie. But while weirder things have happened on TheMoviedb, it woudn’t fit the label Blood and Sand, a label Plex users may at times have encountered. But not for Layer Cake. Worst you could possible except would be Coming of Age.

Oh, you give a fuckin' aspirin a headache, pal!

I would classify it a beautiful clusterfrak.

Is It About Drugs?

Yes, yes, yes.

Did you watch the opening sequence above? I didn’t see any weed in it though but I can positively confirm that over the years, occasionally rewatching Craig’s and Gambon’s performance I’ve regularly smoked a nice spliff while watching it.

What The Critics Said About It

Of course, online only two critics matter. Released in 2004 Layer Cake is one of many movies to have benefitted a Roger Ebert review. At the same time, being slightly older a movie already, means that the IMDb rating is still rather trustworthy and based on less ratings than modern box office movies do. It also means that the movie’s rating on IMDb has stabilized and can be considered representative of its rating.

Anyone who regularly checks IMDb will know that 7.3 is a respectable score and generally means that one won’t be disappointed by the movie.

Movie fans who still remember Roger Ebert will be delighted to know that Ebert opened his review with a reference to both Casino and Goodfellas. More even, Layer Cake, would later in the review not suffer the fate of being matched to those movies and then declared a flop. Ebert gave the movie a whopping 3.5/4 stars. Not everyone’s cup of tea, for movie and cult film fans that’s as good an endorsement as a 3.5/4 rating gets. More even, Layer Cake also gets a Scorsese reference in Ebert’s review.

The movie was directed by Matthew Vaughn, who produced "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch," and this one works better than those films because it doesn't try so hard to be clever and tries harder to be menacing. It's difficult to take danger seriously when it's packaged in fancy camera work, although Guy Ritchie's "Lock, Stock" did have a carefree visual genius. "Layer Cake" is more in the Scorsese vein, in which a smart and ambitious young man has it all figured out and then gradually loses control to old-fashioned hoods who don't have the patience for prudence when it's easier to just eliminate anyone who gets in their way. The problem is that every dead enemy tends to have a more dangerous living enemy standing next in line.
Roger Ebert

Where’s The Sequel?

Listen, we know that in this Millennial era a movie can not be called good without its compulsory sequel or at least an “reimagined” re-release. Era obliging, Layer Cake’s sequel has been long in the planning and would eventually star Jason Statham. The sequel would be based on the second book by JJ Connolly, Viva La Madness, but obviously the Stath —who bought the rights to the book — has been too busy.

Fear not though because it gets better than just a movie. Layer Cake is set to “make a return”, or gets its sequel, in true Millenial fashion with its own Netflix series, Viva La Madness. Details about the upcoming series have been rare so far, although Screenrant did report that filming was set to start last year March.

Since then everything went quiet again and the release is still TBA.

One More Thing

Layer Cake also stars a rather young Tom Hardy. In true Mad Max style Tom Hardy doesn’t speak much in it either, at least not much more than in... errr Mad Max: Road Warrior.

Final Words

If by now you didn’t yet get it go watch Waiting for Godot, this is one movie you should watch if you haven’t yet. If you already saw it... roll, light up, toke, and watch it again. Even if only to (re)discover “the circle of life”, AKA the layer cake.

Did I say Sienna Miller rubs her...

#movies #drugs-movies #matthew-vaughn #daniel-craig

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Fucking loved this movie. Def under the radar for the most part. Lol. Thanks for refreshing my memory, mate. Gonna watch tonight.

I think i will watch it again thanks to you, I watched the film in 2005 when I was in the Cinema school and almost forgot about it. Nice review about it!


Thanks. I wanted to try a new style for a review. Am not fully consistent in it throughout the review tho. But I think I may stick with it for some more movies over next few weeks/months.


It is a good one, u should stick to it without problem. :)