Layer Cake


JJ Connolly's cocaine crim-novel was a spicy caper, crackling with whiplash gangster-gab. Unfortunately, here he makes the classic writerly fumble of trying to siphon the entire novel into a two-hour script - - with edible but stodgy results.

`XXXX' (Daniel Craig) is a burned-out underboss looking to settle one last score before ducking out of the Devil's dandruff biz for good. But, after an offer he can't refuse from a connected tycoon, the loose ends grow more and more gooey and tangled. Soon, he's juggling a missing person, a skipload of hooky Ecstasy and a not-so-merry band of Serbian hitmen. Worst of all, he's interrupted mid-grope with flash totty Tammy (Sienna Miller) to be dangled off a roof by firm chief Eddie (Michael Gambon).

Given Vaughn's Guy Ritchie production pedigree, this could have easily been bogged down in stock Lock, Stock cor-blimey duck-and-dive jive, The Sweeney reshot by Danny Boyle. The difference is Craig - - more wily than wide; all quiet guile and craggy dignity. As he's mauled deeper into the mire, the transformation from "just a businessman" to dark destroyer is smooth and underplayed.

But while Vaughn turns out to be a natural director, framing London with a unique air of seedy flair, he's way too reverent of Connolly's over-complex, flashback-happy scriptand bypasses a strict editor in favour of having his cake and eating it. Still, though: you can't argue with Sienna Miller in suzzies...

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