Open main menu

Layer Cake (film)

Layer Cake (also occasionally stylised as L4YER CAKƐ) is a 2004 British crime 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's plot revolves around a London-based criminal known as XXXX, played by Daniel Craig, working in the trade of cocaine who wishes to leave the drug business. The film also features Tom Hardy, Colm Meaney and Sienna Miller.

Layer Cake
Layer Cake Poster.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMatthew Vaughn
Produced by
  • Adam Bohling
  • David Reid
  • Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay byJ. J. Connolly
Based onLayer Cake
by J. J. Connolly
Music byLisa Gerrard
Ilan Eshkeri
CinematographyBen Davis
Edited byJon Harris
Distributed bySony Pictures Classics
Release date
  • 1 October 2004 (2004-10-01)
Running time
105 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$6.5 million[2]
Box office$11.9 million[3]

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.


The protagonist (Daniel Craig) XXXX (the film never mentions his name) is a London cocaine distributor who operates with the care and professionalism of a legitimate businessman. His chief associates are Morty and Gene, his liaisons to mob boss Jimmy Price. Just as XXXX is ready to retire from criminal life, Jimmy demands of him two tasks.

The first is to track down Charlie, an associate’s drug-addicted runaway daughter. XXXX enlists con men Cody and Tiptoes, who determine Charlie has apparently been kidnapped, but no ransom demand made.

The second is to oversee the purchase of one million ecstasy tablets from low-level gangster “the Duke.” Unbeknown to XXXX, the Duke and his crew have stolen the pills from an infamous gang of Serbian war criminals.

XXXX meets the Duke’s feckless nephew Sidney and shares an attraction with Sidney’s girlfriend Tammy. XXXX tries to broker the sale of the pills to Liverpool gangsters Trevor and Shanks but they refuse, informing him of the pills’ origin and that the vengeful Serbians have sent an assassin, Dragan, to recover the pills and kill the thieves. As the Duke had mentioned his name to the Serbians, XXXX is also a target.

XXXX arranges a tryst with Tammy but is kidnapped and brought to mob boss Eddie Temple. Eddie explains that Charlie is his daughter, whom he has recovered; Jimmy, having recently lost a fortune through Eddie, wanted her as a hostage until Eddie recouped his losses. Eddie gives XXXX a recording revealing Jimmy to be a long-time informant for Scotland Yard, who intended to betray XXXX to the police once the pills were sold, thereby gaining clemency and XXXX’s own wealth. Eddie demands that XXXX sell him the pills instead.

Furious, XXXX kills Jimmy at his home. Confronted by Gene and Morty, he shares the evidence of Jimmy’s betrayal, and the pair acknowledge him as the new acting boss. Gene shows them the corpse of the Duke, whom his unnamed henchman killed in the wake of the disastrous pill robbery. XXXX attempts to lure Dragan into an ambush but fails, and promises to recover the pills.

Sidney brings XXXX to the Duke’s crew’s hideout, and as they bargain for the pills, the police arrive. The criminals barely escape the raid, and Dragan watches from afar as the pills are confiscated. However, XXXX arranged for the raid, with Cody and Tiptoes posing as officers to secure the pills. XXXX delivers the Duke’s severed head to Dragan as a peace offering; satisfied, Dragan reports to the Serbians that the police have seized the drugs.

When XXXX and his crew arrive at Eddie’s warehouse to sell the pills as arranged, Eddie’s henchmen relieve them of the drugs at gunpoint, and Eddie welcomes him “to the layer cake” of the criminal hierarchy. Having anticipated this double-cross, XXXX has arranged for Trevor and Shanks to steal the drugs back from Eddie’s men. The gang assembles for lunch at the Stoke Park Country Club, honoring their new boss; nevertheless, XXXX follows through on his decision to retire. With Tammy on his arm, he exits the club, and is shot by the jilted but apologetic Sidney. XXXX collapses, contemplating his uncertain fate.



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 officeEdit

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 responseEdit

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 it 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. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle remarked on the "efficient, gripping story" and wrote that Craig's performance as an improvising, "intelligent amateur" contained the "cool-yet-humble vibe of Steve McQueen".[8]

Craig's starring role in the film has been cited as the performance that led to his high-profile casting as James Bond.[9]

Home mediaEdit

Layer Cake was released on DVD and VHS on 23 August 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. On 17 September 2015, it was reported that Viva La Madness will be a TV show for Gaumont International Television.[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. ^ "Nothing sweet about 'Layer Cake' thugs". SFGate.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Prudom, Laura. "Jason Statham to Star in TV Drama 'Viva La Madness' from Gaumont". Retrieved 17 September 2015.

External linksEdit