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‘Cake’ is an example of style sans substance

Chris Hewitt St. Paul Pioneer Press

One of those British gangster movies where people take drugs, then start yelling at each other, then start blowing each others’ brains out, “Layer Cake” is stylish but empty.

It begins with a handsome gangster (played by Daniel Craig) vowing, “I’m leaving it all behind,” a line of dialogue that is always false. There would be no movie if he really did give up the thug life and retire to Ibiza, so we know he’s going to get sucked back in and it’s going to be bloody.

How that happens is less important than how it’s depicted. The “Layer Cake” plot is ridiculously convoluted, so much so that it’s as if the movie is telling us not to even try to keep up. Instead, director Matthew Vaughn – who, on the basis of this film, got a gig directing the next “X-Men” movie – dazzles us with tricky camera moves, smarty-pants dialogue and witty juxtapositions.

I was never bored by “Layer Cake.” But it also has no characters (when I saw their names at the end, I realized I’d already forgotten which thug was which) and no theme other than “Crime doesn’t pay.” So, don’t expect “Layer Cake” to add any new layers to the overstuffed genre of British gangster movies.

This one is as sleek and smooth as a piece of fine leather and about as deep.

o

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