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He's definitely Bond
by Asa Butcher
2006-11-12 09:12:37
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Layer Cake
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Columbia Pictures Industries, 2004

Exactly one year after the release of Layer Cake, Daniel Craig was announced as the successor to Pierce Brosnan in the role of James Bond resulting in countless Bond aficionados throwing up their arms and proclaiming, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" Apparently, a blonde 007 was too much for them, plus Daniel Craig apparently didn't have the presence required and his name was not Clive Owen.

Well, I have decided to give the man the benefit of the doubt and at least wait until I have watched Casino Royale before casting the first stone. In the meantime, I have been checking out Daniel Craig's back catalogue of films, such as Road to Perdition, to acquaint myself with the actor and get a sneak peak into his capabilities. I can't recall which website suggested Layer Cake as the film that proves Craig is perfect to replace Brosnan, but they were not wrong.

The film, based upon J.J. Connolly's novel, was supposed to have been directed by Guy Ritchie, but other commitments resulted in Matthew Vaughn getting his directorial debut. Vaughn had already been a producer on a number of Ritchie's earlier projects, so the raw violent style with strong bursts of British humour result in strong comparisons to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.

Drugs, guns and violence are glorified throughout the film, although consequences are shown…meaning that there is a body count. From the opening narration of Daniel Craig's nameless character, "When I was born, the world was a far simpler place. It was all just cops and robbers…I'm not a gangster. I'm a businessman whose commodity happens to be cocaine," you are under no illusion that you are about to spend 104mins with some immoral characters.

Before I return to Daniel Craig, I must mention a number of the supporting cast, some of which are regulars in the British gangster genre. Colm Meaney has been one of my favourite actors since I saw him in Star Trek: TNG and his excellent performance as Gene reminds you of his psychotic/cool-headed moments in Under Siege. Michael Gambon takes a break from his role as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series and steals every scene as Eddie Temple, a powerful construction businessman. It was great to see Press Gang's Dexter Fletcher back on screen again and Jamie Foreman as Duke can only be described dominant.

Daniel Craig was nominated for Audience Award Best Actor at the 2005 European Film Awards for his role as XXXX, a lucrative cocaine dealer who is planning an early retirement, until he is told to find Temple's missing daughter. The story twists and turns as a £2m shipment of Grade A ecstasy tablets is stolen and XXXX is left in the middle of the whole mess; double crossings and a love interest called Tammy don't help matters either.

XXXX attempts to face his situation with style and attitude, but his human side does break through to the surface on a few occasions. You can't help but smile when Colm Meaney's character hands Craig a gun and you watch the future Bond pretend to be just that. Strangely enough, some of the scenes take place in the beautiful Stoke Park House, a private country house in Buckinghamshire, England, which was also used in Tomorrow Never Dies.

After watching Daniel Craig in Layer Cake and imagining him as Bond while reading Ian Fleming's Casino Royale, I am particularly excited about Bond #21 and believe that many of those fans that were quick to set-up websites against him will be forced to eat a slice of humble pie, while I can enjoy some more Layer Cake.

"You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake son."

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