I went to see Layer Cake last night. For those of you who have missed the publicity, it's a new movie directed by Matthew Vaughn, the guy who produced Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch for Guy Ritchie. First, let me start by saying that this movie is not Lock, Stock or Snatch, it's not meant to be. I enjoyed the film overhaul, but it left me lacking fulfilment.
The characters were great, the parts were well acted, which meant I had empathy for the characters, which is certainly what you want. I don't think I could really fault the direction, I think Vaughn did a stand up job (I'm not sure how good a job he did with the actors, most of them were seasoned pros, but if he didn't have a hand in their performances, he was at least clever enough to hire skilled workmen). The music was good, the cinematography was fine. No, the only thing I could put my apathy down to was a poor story, or rather a poor adaptation (the film is taken from a novel by J. J. Connolly which seems to get rave reviews so I can't think it's that), maybe letting Connolly adapt his own novel wasn't such a good idea (he's the only credited writer, so I assume he adapted it).
For me, some of the things that let it down were too little action (guns, guns and more guns were missing), too much voice over (one of the fundamental rules of script writing, all writing, is show don't tell), too little totty -- there's a fantastic looking lady in it, but she's onscreen for less than five minutes in the entire movie -- far too predictable. The film starts well, it seems to get a little lost (or I did) in the middle, it sets up a series of problems, and then heads for the end by solving them all in predictable ways. Now, I like to think I'm a fairly savvy filmgoer and I'm pretty good at picking up clues and whatnot (most movies -- and filmmakers -- these days treat their audiences like idiots and leave plenty of clues so what happens makes sense) but these babies were telegraphed so much I could have told you what was going to happen with 20-30 mins to go, maybe others won't see them.
All in all, I think it was a far more realistic gangster flick than Lock, Stock and it's ilk, but I think it'll disappear almost immediately, as say, Sexy Beast did. On the other hand, two that stood out in the crowd: Dexter Fletcher was wonderful and simply wasn't given enough screen time, but Michael Gambon was an absolute powerhouse, the man was stunning, I could watch an entire 90 mins of just Michael Gambon, he oozed class, assurance and menace. There was no doubting this was a man with whom not to mess.
Anyway, for those of you who don't know, I would like to work in the movies and have an idea for a gangster movie to be shot extremely low budget and using a somewhat unorthodox method of finance, the project isn't yet ready to run, it's one of several pokers I have in the fire and is currently a lower priority (I have a plan and I'm working through it systematically). I do have the script for a possible trailer, so you can see where I'm going, I may well be calling on all your help when I finally get to it, so keep your eyes peeled.