A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No positive messages. The film's title is in reference to one of the character's views of the criminal world and life in general. To paraphrase: The layers of the cake are excrement that one endures in life until they are at the top of the cake and forget what excrement smells like.
Positive Role Models
No positive role models. The lead character is a cocaine dealer. The movie is centered on various players in the drug trade.
Violence & Scariness
Character shoots himself in the head. Man shot in the head and killed at point-blank range. One of the characters brutally beats up another character, pounding him until he's a bloody pulp, and then pouring the contents of a boiling hot tea kettle on his skin. A man is found dead with an iron burned into his chest. Innocent man shot and killed in a warehouse. Explosions. Character found dead from a drug overdose.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters have sex, no nudity. Man shown watching a pornographic movie; sounds of moaning.
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Constant profanity. "F--k" used on a regular basis. In a fantasy sequence, a high-end boutique sells drugs, and the name of the brand is "F--K" with the two middle letters switched. "S--te." "Piss," "bastard." Various racist terms used to describe black, Asian, and Pakistani people.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Movie's lead character is a cocaine dealer. One of the plots centers on a large shipment of Ecstasy stolen from a brutal Serbian kingpin. Cocaine use shown. References to hashish and LSD. Cigar and cigarette smoking. Champagne drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Layer Cake is a 2004 British action-crime movie in which Daniel Craig plays a cocaine distributor caught in a web of deceit involving kidnapping and stolen drugs. There's considerable drug use, including cocaine, and a central part of the plot is a stolen shipment of Ecstasy pills. Constant profanity, including "f--k" frequently used, as well as racial slurs for Pakistanis and people of color. The title of the movie is a reference to one of the character's philosophy of life, in which most people are born in "s--t" and try to climb out of these layers until they no longer smell it. There's violence throughout, including a scene in which a man beats another man to a bloody pulp in a diner, then finishes the job by pouring the contents of a boiling hot tea kettle on his face. Character shoots himself in the head. Characters killed by machine gun fire. Man found dead of a drug overdose. Characters shown having sex in one scene (no nudity), and sounds of people having sex as a character is shown watching a pornographic movie. This movie is directed by Matthew Vaughn, who also directed Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, and the gritty noir fast-paced style of Layer Cake is in a similar vein. Based on a novel by JJ Connolly. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This movie is very much a product of its time, and while its enjoyable, it doesn't quite stand out from similar movies of that era. Layer Cake is an entertaining British crime noir movie from the makers of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. There's a distinctive style to turn-of-the-century crime movies like these -- for instance: cynical voiceovers, foul-mouthed henchmen with distinctive nicknames, criminal bosses who make their points by bringing up the behavior of some animal in nature or a tactical gambit in chess -- and Layer Cake is very much a part of that style and sensibility. Therein lies the problem. Even if the story is entertaining on its own terms, with plenty of action, double-crosses, and plot twists, there's still the lingering feeling that this has all been done before.
As the cool and professional lead character known only as "XXXX," Daniel Craig brings a suave style that seems to make it inevitable that he would soon be James Bond. He's the smart and even-keeled drug dealer surrounded by stooges and psychos. Again, this is all to be expected. There's a "love interest" that seems a little too shoehorned in, like the filmmakers realized that there were only two female characters in the whole thing, and they're both relatively minor. It's a story where style sometimes gets in the way of substance when there's no reason, because the story is fine on its own terms.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.