Matthew Vaughn couldn't get close friend Guy Ritchie to direct this intricately woven British crime picture, so the producer of Snatch and Swept Away decided to do it himself.
In Layer Cake he gets his feet wet with some intense, hard-hitting visual polish and moments of long-winded, if informative voice-overs. Daniel Craig (The Mother, Sylvia) is solid again as a dapper businessman who's in the commodity of cocaine. His unnamed character, until the end credits, has done very well for himself through careful distribution with a million quid in the bank as he's ready for an early retirement.
The rather overloaded screenplay from JJ Connolly from his own novel of the same name has the menacing Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) persuading him to locate the smack-addled daughter of wealthy friend Eddie Temple (Michael Gambon, Dumbledore from the Harry Potter movies). How this final job threatens his life as he must procure and sell a million Ecstasy pills. Craig is able to make a man who says "he's not a gangster" into an Everyman as he comes into contact with shady, ostentatious folks like The Duke (Jamie Foreman). Apparently, he stole the huge stash of E from Slavo the Serb (Marcel Iures).
Vaughn smartly convinces the viewer of how the criminal world and class world in Britain are so close, made up of layers, that one person could be right next to someone very dangerous, perhaps working for the owner of that large batch. Layer Cake relates to Snatch in many ways, including explosive, violent scenes, but is accomplished without relying on much humor like Get Carter and The Long Good Friday.
Providing noticeable support are Colm Meaney as Gene, Price's middleman, and the tall George Harris as the businessman's urbane minder who unleashes hell in a memorable, lively cafe scene. And Sienna Miller (Alfie) is a very seductive presence as Tammy, the blonde squeeze of The Duke's young nephew.
Even if there's a lot of information passed between characters during the action, the twists and gags are fairly diverting as Vaughn works closely with his crew to make spacious London locations very nice to look at. And the convoluted, classy work also has a killer soundtrack featuring songs by The Cult and Duran Duran to go along with the equally killer coda.