Layer Cake

New York Premiere

USA, U.K. | 110 MINUTES | English |

LAYER CAKE

Just when it seemed the crime thriller had been wholly consumed by the Hollywood ethic of action over motivation, along comes this stylized rush from the U.K. that burns with the unsentimental intensity of a Jim Thompson novel and seethes with the effortless cool of a Mike Hodges film. Our Man (Steve McQueen ringer Daniel Craig) is on top of the world. His brief but very lucrative career as a cocaine dealer will come to a self-imposed end with the deposit of a hefty check of his illicit earnings, laundered clean and untraceable. He has kept out of trouble by adhering to "the rules," and rarely ever held a gun. But after a farewell lunch with kingpin Jimmy Price and a request Our Man can't refuse, it appears every rule must be broken as he sets off on a mission for revenge that becomes a shot at redemption. The twisted tale of how one man's life can be brought to the edge of collapse by machinations beyond his control has the heart of a great crime story, but cunningly avoids genre clichés. The sharp, nuanced script by J.J. Connolly (based on his own novel) offers twists at every turn and is emboldened by precisely framed cinematography and spot-on performances (including Michael Gambon and Colm Meaney). The world of deception that director Matthew Vaughn creates is so complete that even the title loses its playful innocence by the time we're let in on what it really means.