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Film and Television Whether you're a film buff or just want to talk about your favorite television show, this forum is for you.

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Layer Cake - My Review and Your Thoughts - June 16th 2011, 05:23 AM

Same deal.

I'm not sure how many of you have seen this movie because the, "Daniel Craig craze", as I call it, happened from the emergency of Casino Royale then Quantum of Solace and even the video game, James Bond 007: Blood Stone, all released after 2005-2006. Layer Cake was made in 2004 and is not of the James Bond series, although the way Craig acts, it's very similar to these movies. It has some very unusual aspects and really makes you think so overall, I rate it 8.5/10.

As I mentioned, the unusual character is the main character played by Craig. It's weird because he has no name, never in the movie is the character's name mentioned! So the name I'll give for him is XXXX, the same name used by IMDB, although this weird name actually has some significance to the movie.

If you've seen Casino Royale, the start of the movie is very similar to Layer Cake: it's a brief black-and-white scene but unlike in Casino Royale where Bond is talking to someone, XXXX is narrating the movie by talking to himself in his head. I really like this part because it gives a general summary of XXXX and of the movie, that is, XXXX is a well-known businessman in the London underground drug business, specializing in cocaine distribution but also works in real-estate as a legit job and giving him access to clients. This is a twist from the James Bond movies because it gives a moral question of who the "good guy" really is, a drug dealer whose legit job is exploited for criminal uses or a menacing mob boss Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham), or a neo-Nazi group leader with his constantly high and unpredictable female tag-along (Kelly-Marie Kerr)? In James Bond, it was clear who the "good guy" was, James Bond, the police and MI5. If this doesn't screw with your head in a good way, the next and larger twist is crime groups no longer respect one another, so it's every person for themselves. This is an important twist because other crime drama and action movies have certain crime groups respecting one another. Even in Casino Royale, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) and Steven Obanno (Isaach De Bankole) maintain their relationship throughout the movie, until of course Le Chiffre is killed.

In terms of acting, XXXX has a similar attitude and demeanour as Craig's role in James Bond. In other words, if you liked his acting there, you'll like it here. The overall attitude of the other characters is usually similar to Craig's, with the exception of the neo-Nazi group and the crack-addicted female played by Kerr. In a way, the acting is like a modern-day version of The Godfather and XXXX acts somewhat like the Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), minus the accent and droopy face.

In terms of scenery, it's either dark and dreary or bright and majestic, both of which reflect the criminal underground. The dark and dreary represents the world of well-known criminals, such as XXXX but aren't extremely wealthy. The bright and majestic represents the world of the top criminal heads who are very wealthy and influential, such as (The) Duke (Jamie Foreman) and Jimmy Price. It's interesting to note that the dreariness is on a continuum, signifying that among the less proficient but well-known criminals, there is a "top", XXXX.

Saving for last but certainly not least, the implications of Layer Cake. The term "layer cake" refers to the hierarchical level of businesses that one goes through to reach the top. Although XXXX is already well-known, the movie shows the different levels, in part by the mentioned continuum of dreariness-majesty. Another implication is the name IMDB gave to Craig's character, XXXX. Although X would suffice, a major component of the plot involves criminals of different levels trying to find a shitload of top-level ecstasy said to be worth at least 2 million pounds, around $4-5 million. As many people know, the abbreviation for ecstasy is X. Craig's character, XXXX is on a search for a particular lady as ordered by his boss Jimmy Price as one of his last assignments.

The significance is "X" denotes not knowing where something is, in line with XXXX's attitude on his life and of society, as well as not knowing the location of the 2 million pounds of ecstasy and not knowing where a certain girl is that Jimmy Price orders XXXX to find. In other words, a key to the plot is not knowing where stuff is or how stuff fits in society, so XXXX becomes a human example. Furthermore, by having criminal ties all breached and not knowing who the "good guys" or "bad guys" are, the movie continues emphasis on not knowing one's place in society and how it creates social disorder. This idea is particularly interesting because the movie is set in the criminal underground, often perceived as socially disorganized. Despite all this not knowing and not fitting in, XXXX becomes the main man responsible for doing all the finding, which really turns the movie on its head, given the mentioned idea that "X" means something is lost.

As a last note, for anyone who knows the famous sociologist Emile Durkheim, he coined the term "anomie" and believed social disorder within reason is beneficial for society. One of the reasons is it brings people together to fight a common enemy and high-light rules and boundaries. In a way, the movie and meaning of "X" does exactly that.


I can rip you off, and steal all your cash, suckerpunch you in the face, stand back and laugh. Leave you stranded as fast as a heart-attack.
- Danko Jones (I Think Bad Thoughts)
   
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