Layer Cake (film)

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Layer Cake
Layer Cake Poster.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Produced by
  • Adam Bohling
  • David Reid
  • Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay by J. J. Connolly
Based on Layer Cake 
by J. J. Connolly
Music by Lisa Gerrard
Ilan Eshkeri
Cinematography Ben Davis
Edited by Jon Harris
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • 1 October 2004 (2004-10-01)
Running time
106 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $6.5 million[2]
Box office $11.9 million[3]

Layer Cake (sometimes stylised as L4YER CAK3) is a 2004 British crime thriller film directed by Matthew Vaughn, in his directorial debut. The screenplay was adapted by J. J. Connolly from his novel of the same name.

The film was produced by Adam Bohling, David Reid and Matthew Vaughn, with Stephen Marks as executive producer. The title refers to the social strata, especially in the British criminal underworld, as well as the numerous plot layers in the film.


An unnamed man, known only as XXXX, is a London underworld figure who has established himself in the cocaine business and is one of the city's biggest suppliers and manufacturers, whilst presenting himself as a figure with legal business operations. Considering himself a businessman and a calm person, he leaves the more violent aspects of the business to his henchman Morty. Morty previously spent 10 years in prison for murder. When he has made his fortune, XXXX plans to retire.

His plans to retire go awry when his powerful supplier Jimmy Price sends XXXX to track down Charlie, the teenage daughter of Price's associate, Eddie Temple, who has fled a rehabilitation centre with her drug-addicted boyfriend. To help track her down, XXXX enlists the help of two corrupt police detectives, Cody and Tiptoes. To the dismay of XXXX, the boyfriend is found dead and Charlie has apparently been kidnapped, although no ransom has been demanded.

At the same time, Price instructs XXXX to organise the purchase and distribution of one million ecstasy tablets from a low-level gangster named The Duke. XXXX does not know the pills were stolen from a gang of Serbian war criminals in the Netherlands, who have been in hiding since the war and are now large-scale drug producers.

Meanwhile, XXXX encounters the Duke's idiotic nephew Sidney at a bar and becomes attracted to his bored girlfriend Tammy. XXXX tries to broker the sale of the ecstasy to Liverpool gangsters Trevor and Shanks, but they refuse, informing him of the drug's purloined nature and of the fact that the Serbs have sent a hitman, Dragan, to find the pills and kill those responsible for their theft. Because the Duke mentioned XXXX's name to the Serbs beforehand, he too is now in danger. Members of The Duke's gang soon begin turning up dead and the Duke himself goes missing.

XXXX arranges a tryst with Tammy but before it can be consummated, he is kidnapped by henchmen of Eddie Temple. Temple informs him that Jimmy had lost £13 million in a failed investment in Africa and is now hoping to sell the pills to recoup his losses. He demands instead that XXXX sell the pills to him, and plays him a recording indicating that Jimmy has been a long-term informant for Scotland Yard and intends to betray XXXX to the police as soon as the deal is done, planning to gain clemency from the deal and also take away XXXX's fortune.

XXXX, enraged, shoots and kills Jimmy but does so with a gun that Gene, Jimmy's henchman, had used to commit a prior murder, putting him and Gene in danger. XXXX then discovers that his accountant, whom Jimmy referred to, has embezzled all of his money and disappeared. Gene and Morty, after being given evidence of Jimmy's snitching, recognise XXXX as the new acting boss and show him the corpse of the Duke, whom Gene had killed along with Duke's girlfriend, Slasher, when the latter threatened to alert the police about the pills.

XXXX delivers the severed head of the Duke to Dragan as a peace offering. To recoup something from the fiasco, XXXX arranges for Cody and Tiptoes to raid the Duke's hideout and confiscate the drugs, which satisfies Dragan, who reports back to his Serbian boss that the police have seized the drugs. Cody and Tiptoes return the drugs to XXXX. However, when he attempts to sell them to Eddie Temple, Temple steals the drugs from them at gunpoint. To end XXXX's faux assignment given by Jimmy, Temple reveals that he has put Charlie back into rehab.

To satisfy him, Temple then gives XXXX a "welcome to the layer cake" in the form of a membership to the Stoke Park Country Club of which he is a member and Jimmy was. Suspecting betrayal, XXXX successfully arranges for Trevor, Shanks & young Dizzy to steal the drugs back from Temple's men. The gang assembles for lunch at the Stoke Park Club, proclaiming XXXX their new boss. However, he demurs, stating his intention to stick to his planned retirement. When leaving the club with Tammy, mentally running through the names of his fellow murdered businessmen, he is shot by a jealous Sidney. XXXX bleeds and twitches on the front steps.



Filming began in June 2003. Queen's Gate Mews, SW7, was used as the filming location for the home of Daniel Craig's character XXXX.[4]


The soundtrack from Layer Cake is composed of 14 tracks.

  1. "Hayling" – FC Kahuna
  2. "Opening" – Ilan Eshkeri and Steve McLaughlin
  3. "She Sells Sanctuary" – The Cult
  4. "Can't Get Blue Monday Out of My Head" (Original Radio Edit) – Kylie Minogue
  5. "You Got the Love" (Original bootleg radio mix) – The Source feat. Candi Staton
  6. "Drive to the Boatyard" – Ilan Eshkeri
  7. "Junky Fight" – Lisa Gerrard
  8. "Making Plans for Nigel" – XTC
  9. "Ordinary World" – Duran Duran
  10. "Ruthless Gravity" – Craig Armstrong
  11. "Four to the Floor" (Soulsavers Mix) – Starsailor
  12. "Drive to the Warehouse" – Ilan Eshkeri and Lisa Gerrard
  13. "Aria" (Layer Cake Speech) – Lisa Gerrard with Michael Gambon
  14. "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" – Joe Cocker

The Rolling Stones song "Gimme Shelter" also features in the film but does not appear on the soundtrack album.


Box office[edit]

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Reference
Worldwide United States United States International Worldwide All time United States All time worldwide
Layer Cake May 2005 May 2005 $2,339,957 $9,510,257 $11,850,214 #5,288 Unknown $6.5 million[2] [3]

Critical response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic Entertainment Weekly
Layer Cake 81% (133 reviews)[5] 73/100 (30 reviews)[6] A[7]

Layer Cake received positive reviews, with an 81% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average of 7.1/10 based on 134 reviews. The critical consensus states that it is "A stylized, electric British crime thriller".[5] The film has an average score of 73 based on 30 reviews on Metacritic.[7]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times remarked; "The movie was directed by Matthew Vaughn, who produced Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, and this one works better than those films because it doesn't try so hard to be clever and tries harder to be menacing". Of Craig's performance, he said, "Craig is fascinating here as a criminal who is very smart, and finds that is not an advantage because while you might be able to figure out what another smart person is about to do, dumbos like the men he works for are likely to do anything". He gave the film 3.5/4 stars.

Craig's starring role in the film has been cited as the performance that led to his high-profile casting as James Bond.[8]

Home Media[edit]

Layer Cake was released on DVD and VHS in August 23, 2005 and on Blu-ray in 2007. It was also re-released in 2014.


Jason Statham's production company is said to have the rights to produce a sequel, entitled Viva La Madness with Statham taking the XXXX role from Craig.[9] On September 17, 2015, it was reported that Viva La Madness will be a TV show.[10]


  1. ^ "LAYER CAKE (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 10 August 2004. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Layer Cake (2005)". the-numbers. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Layer Cake (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Mews News. Lurot Brand. Published Spring 2010. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Layer Cake". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 27 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "Layer Cake". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Layer Cake". Metacritic. CBS. 13 May 2005. Retrieved 27 October 2012. 
  8. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (30 June 2008). "Daniel Craig's Role As James Bond Allowed Him To Become A 'Fool' – Movie News Story | MTV Movie News". Retrieved 27 October 2012. 
  9. ^ Brew, Leane, Simon, Rob. "143 movie sequels currently in the works". Retrieved August 13, 2015. 
  10. ^ Prudom, Laura. "Jason Statham to Star in TV Drama ‘Viva La Madness’ from Gaumont". Retrieved 17 September 2015. 

External links[edit]