Sunday, September 18, 2016

Layer Cake

Year 8, Day 262 - 9/18/16 - Movie #2,454   

BEFORE: Ben Whishaw carries over from "The Danish Girl" - see, I told you we'd get there.  And this will link nicely to "Spectre" and then set up the Halloween chain with the following film.  

THE PLOT: A successful cocaine dealer gets two tough assignments from his boss on the eve of his planned early retirement.

AFTER: Well, it seems there are film directed by Guy Ritchie (like "The Man from "U.N.C.L.E.") and then there are those that just FEEL like they were directed by him.  This one was directed by Matthew Vaughn, who also directed "Kick-Ass" and "Kingsman: the Secret Service", but it feels like it shares more of its DNA with films like "Snatch" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels". Maybe because Mr. Ritchie left that genre behind to make spy films? (Ah, I get it - Mr. Vaughn produced those  films...)  Anyway, films about British criminals with Cockney accents stumbling around the U.K. underworld have sort of become a genre of their own over the years.  

Here, a pre-Bond Daniel Craig plays XXXX, an unnamed middle-man of sorts in the drug scene, someone who's pretty good at making deals and playing one faction off against the other, at least until he decides he's had enough and wants to get out of the game.  A couple of things wrong with that plan, first off that it's extremely lucrative, so there's really no motivation to get out, and even if he could, he knows too much about too many people, so events rightfully seem to conspire to make things very difficult for him.  

There's a shipment of a million stolen ecstasy pills that his boss wants him to unload, but even as difficult as that may be, it gets even harder when the Serbian gang that they belong to shows up and starts calling his phone.  His boss also wants him to track down an associate's daughter, who's missing from rehab.  Since our "hero" isn't really a tracker, he hires a couple of con men who know the drug scene.  The investigation doesn't get very far before the girl's father shows up and kidnaps XXXX, not only wanting in on the deal for the ecstasy pills, but carrying information that XXXX's boss is an informant and will never, ever let him retire.  

Then things go even more pear-shaped, as the Brits say, and XXXX has to navigate an ever-shifting bunch of players, with names like Dizzy, Tiptoes and the Duke, while avoiding Serbian assassins and figuring out who, if anybody, should get to buy these pills and whether his plan to get out of the game is even still possible.  

Part of the difficulty is always understanding these thick Cockney accents - usually I'm pretty good at it after 15 minutes or so, but tonight the problem persisted.  It was also very hard to understand how exactly the events of years ago (the flashbacks with Crazy Larry, and younger versions of Gene and the Duke) connected to the present-day ones.  Something about the disposal of a body, and Morty doing time, and Freddy falling asleep, but honestly it's a bit of a muddle.  

Also starring Daniel Craig (last seen in "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider"), Tom Hardy (last seen in "Lawless"), Colm Meaney (last seen in "The Conspirator"), Sienna Miller (last seen in "Alfie"), Jamie Foreman (last seen in "Oliver Twist"), Sally Hawkins (last seen in "Paddington"), Michael Gambon (last heard in "Paddington"), George Harris (last seen in "The Interpreter"), Kenneth Cranham (last seen in "Maleficent") Jason Flemyng (last seen in "Lost Christmas"), Dragan Micanovic (last seen in "Bad Company"), Burn Gorman (last seen in "Pacific Rim"), Marcel Iures, Tamer Hassan, Dexter Fletcher, Stephen Walters, Steve John Shepherd, Louis Emerick. 

RATING: 5 out of 10 country club memberships

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