Layer Cake

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Screenwriters: J.J. Connolly

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


Having produced such stylized British crime-genre hits as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, Matthew Vaughn adeptly shifts into the director's chair with Layer Cake, making his mark on the genre by adding emotional density to the expected complex narrative. Instilled with a greater sense of drama and tension, the film grabs hold from the opening scene and doesn't let go until the bitter end.

Daniel Craig stars as a London drug dealer looking to go straight, only to find himself pulled deeper and deeper into the murky underworld. First, he must negotiate a deal for a million stolen ecstasy tablets for an unstable crime lord, and then find the drug-addicted daughter of the crime lord's friend. Each task comes complete with complications, in the form of some vengeance-seeking eastern European gangsters, who want to kill anyone connected with the original theft of the ecstasy tablets, and a rival crime lord, who wants in on the action. While the premise sounds familiar, it's the execution that makes Layer Cake so riveting.

Vaughn seems at ease in his new role, confidently fusing high style with layered substance. He benefits from Craig's gripping and effortlessly charismatic performance, which breathes depth into the character and reveals a vulnerable strength that draws the audience in and escorts them along the exhilarating ride.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details

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