Just what we needed: another super-stylish shallow-as-a-puddle flick about the inner-workings of drug dealers; another British I’m-so-smart-and-and-cool-and-speak-so-fast-you-miss-the-dialogue cinematic flash; another Quentin Tarantino knockoff where a body guard talks about the secret to meditation while dismantling a gun.
California director Matthew Vaughn is clearly trying to relive the thrill of producing his best friend Guy Ritchie’s great British crime adventures, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. But with this effort, Vaughn hits closer to Ritchie’s bomb Swept Away (starring wife Madonna), which Vaughn also produced. There are only so many times you can remix a song and expect it to sound good, especially when you remove the melody. Of course, Vaughn might be listening to the beat of a different drum.
The acting is decent, but the characters are light as air and unsympathetic. The protagonist, a successful cocaine dealer planning on retiring, spends the whole movie chasing a cache of ecstasy pills. The plot jumps from Serbian war criminals to African mining to a beloved daughter kidnapped. The big guys screw over the little guys — thus, the “layer cake.”
The main character says something at the beginning of the film about respecting your enemy: the cops. But cops play no role in the film and the protagonist has no respect for his enemies. Someone else proclaims, “If you must kill a man, never tell a soul,” and then later owns up to who he’s killed. Maybe the point is that drug dealers are stupid.
Layer Cake’s scene-setting and sound track are highly dramatic — elaborate wrapping on an empty box. It’s difficult to understand why anyone agreed to make this movie; as if the world actually needed a flimsy version of Blow with a British accent.
Showing at the Main Art Theatre (118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111).
Lisa M. Collins writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.