REVIEW: LAYER CAKE

CAST

Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Sienna Miller (Factory Girl)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises)
Kenneth Cranham (Maleficent)
George Harris (The Interpreter)
Jamie Foreman (Ironclad)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Ben Whishaw (Bright Star)
Sally Hawkins (The Painted Vell)
Burn Gorman (Game of Thrones)
Dexter Fletcher (Kick-Ass)
Jason Flemyng (From Hell)
Matt Ryan (Constantine)
Tamer Hassan (Batman Begins)

An unnamed man—appearing in the end credits only as XXXX—is a London underworld figure who has established himself in the cocaine business as one of the city’s biggest suppliers, whilst presenting himself as a figure with legal business operations. Considering himself a businessman and a patient person, he leaves the darker aspects of the business to his henchman Morty, who had previously spent 10 years in prison for murder. Once he has earned enough to ensure his long-term financial security, XXXX plans to retire.

Approaching this point, his retirement plans go wrong when his powerful supplier Jimmy Price instructs XXXX to track down Charlie, the teenaged daughter of Price’s associate, Eddie Temple, who has fled a rehabilitation centre along with her drug-addicted boyfriend. To track her down, XXXX enlists the help of two con men known as Cody and Tiptoes. To the frustration of XXXX, the boyfriend is found dead and Charlie has apparently been kidnapped, although no ransom has been demanded.

At the same time, Price instructs XXXX to organise the purchase and distribution of one million ecstasy tablets from a low-level gangster styling himself as “The Duke”. XXXX does not know the pills had been stolen from a gang of Serbian war criminals based in the Netherlands, and who have been in hiding since the Yugoslav Wars and are now large-scale drug producers.

Meanwhile, XXXX encounters the Duke’s nephew Sidney at a bar and becomes attracted to his disillusioned girlfriend Tammy. XXXX tries to broker the sale of the ecstasy pills to Liverpool gangsters Trevor and Shanks, but they refuse, informing him of the drugs’ purloined nature and of the fact that the Serbs have sent an assassin, known as Dragan, to find the pills and kill those responsible for their theft. Because the Duke had mentioned XXXX’s name to the Serbs beforehand, he, too, is now in danger. Members of the Duke’s gang soon start turning up dead and the Duke himself goes missing.

XXXX arranges a tryst with Tammy, but before it can be consummated, he is kidnapped by henchmen of Eddie Temple (the father of Charlie). Temple informs him that Jimmy had lost £13 million in a failed investment in Africa and is now hoping to sell the pills to recoup his losses. He demands instead that XXXX sell the pills to him, and plays him a recording indicating that Jimmy has been a long-term informant for Scotland Yard and intends to betray XXXX to the police as soon as the deal is done, planning to gain clemency from the deal and also take away XXXX’s wealth.

A furious XXXX shoots and kills Jimmy at his home, but does so with a gun that Gene, Jimmy’s henchman, had used to commit a prior murder, putting both himself and Gene in danger. XXXX then discovers that his accountant, to whom Jimmy had referred him, has embezzled all of his money and disappeared. Gene and Morty, after being given evidence of Jimmy’s snitching, acknowledge XXXX as the new acting boss and show him the corpse of the Duke, whom Gene had killed along with Duke’s girlfriend, Slasher, when the latter threatened to alert the police about the pills.

To recoup something from the fiasco, XXXX tips the police off about the Duke’s hideout, who then conduct a raid. XXXX is intentionally present during the raid to feign purchasing the pills from the Duke’s crew, and Dragan, who has been following XXXX, watches the raid from afar as the police confiscate the drugs and as XXXX and Duke’s crew escape. Meanwhile, XXXX has arranged for Cody and Tiptoes to con the raiding police unit out of the pills. XXXX delivers the severed head of the Duke to Dragan as a peace offering, who reports back to his Serbian boss that the police have seized the drugs. Cody and Tiptoes return the drugs to XXXX in exchange for a fee. However, when he attempts to sell them to Eddie Temple at the latter’s bonded warehouse, Temple’s henchmen rob his crew of the drugs at gunpoint. To end XXXX’s faux assignment given by Jimmy, Temple reveals that he has put Charlie back into rehab.

To satisfy him, Temple then gives XXXX a “welcome to the layer cake” in the form of a membership to the Stoke Park Country Club of which he is a member and Jimmy was. Expecting betrayal, XXXX successfully arranges for Trevor, Shanks, and young Dizzy to steal the drugs back from Temple’s men. The gang assembles for lunch at the Stoke Park Club, honoring XXXX their new boss. However, he demurs, stating his intention to stick to his planned retirement. When leaving the club with Tammy, mentally running through the names of his fellow murdered businessmen, he is shot by a heart-broken Sidney. XXXX collapses bleeding, and the film ends with him twitching on the club’s front steps and thinking of his possible imminent death.Layer Cake is definitely not for all types. Those of you who do stick around through the reveals and character developments, I can assure you that the payoff is worth the investment.

REVIEW: INKHEART

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CAST

Brendan Fraser (The Mummy)
Sienna Guillory (Eragon)
Paul Bettany (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Eliza Bennett (The Prince and Me)
Helen Mirren (Red)
Andy Serkis (The Hobbit)
Jim Broadbent (Vera Drake)
Rafi Gavron (The Cold Light of Day)
Lesley Sharp (From Hell)
Jamie Foreman  (Ironclad)
Jennifer Connelly (Hulk)
Stephen Graham (This Is England)

One evening, whilst Mortimer “Mo” Folchart (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Teresa “Resa” Folchart (Sienna Guillory) are reading the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood” to their baby daughter Meggie, a red velvet hood appears out of nowhere. Several years later, a much older Meggie (Eliza Bennett) travels with her father Mo to visit an old book shop in Italy, unaware that he is secretly looking for a copy of the book, Inkheart. Shortly after finding one, Meggie comes across a marten with horns outside the shop, who tries to bite her fingers. Suddenly, a man (Paul Bettany) appears from the shadows, claiming to be an old friend while revealing the marten’s name as Gwin. When Mo comes out of the book shop, he quickly recognizes the man as a person called Dustfinger, whom quickly asks to be read back into the book, only for Mo to flee with Meggie from him.

Travelling across Italy, Mo takes Meggie on a visit to Meggie’s great aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren), whereupon he reveals to Meggie why he fled from Dustfinger. While she was young, Mo read to her from Inkheart, inadvertently freeing Dustfinger as a result, due to a gift he possessed from birth, that marks him as a “Silver Tongue”. Unfortunately, his gift also freed the book’s villain Capricorn (Andy Serkis) and several of his henchman, but at the same time, losing Resa after being forced to flee with his infant daughter. Soon, Dustfinger reappears seeking Mo, accompanied by Capricorn’s minion, Basta (Jamie Foreman), who quickly captures Mo and his family and takes back Inkheart, destroying Elinor’s valuable library in the process.

The four are taken to Capricorn’s new castle in the real world. Elinor stands up to Capricorn and protests against the destruction of her library, but Capricorn orders her to be gagged. Mo is forced to read from the book, and they are imprisoned in the stables, which house various creatures from different storybooks, including the winged monkeys from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the minotaur from the story of Theseus, and a unicorn. During their imprisonment, Mo explains to Meggie and Elinor about his gift, stating that when he reads a person or an object out of a book, someone from the real world is sent into it, hence why his wife disappeared. Capricorn, interested in using his gift, forces Mo to read out items from books, causing him to get a stash of treasure from one of the stories in The Arabian Nights, while causing one of the 40 Thieves, named Farid (Rafi Gavron), to be brought out as well and forced into imprisonment. Dustfinger, who believed he could get his chance to return into the book, quickly learns Capricorn tricked him, and so prompts a quick escape using the famous tornado from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; during the escape, he opts not to tell Mo that his wife Resa is in the village, but has lost her voice.

Following their escape, Meggie offers the idea of finding the author of Inkheart, a man named Fenoglio (in honor of the Italian writer Beppe Fenoglio), who may have access to a copy of the rare-to-find book. Whilst Elinor decides to leave them to recover what is left of her book collection, the rest head for the author’s location, with Dustfinger initially staying with Farid to teach him to juggle fire, yet secretly afraid of learning his fate in the book. When he does travel with Mo to find and meet with Fenoglio (Jim Broadbent), the author’s ecstatic mood, upon seeing his creation live and breath before him, causes Dustfinger to discover that his efforts to save Gwin at the end of the book brings about his death. Angry, he berates the author for not being his god and that he has the freedom to choose whatever fate he wants, before eventually confessing to Mo, who Resa is in the book, that his wife was in Capricorn’s castle.

Both he and Mo take Fenoglio’s car, leaving Meggie behind with the author, where during the journey, they quickly discover that Farid had stowed away in the car’s trunk, and take him along at his insistence. Whilst away, Meggie begins reading a number of books out loud, and discovers she is a “Silver Tongue” herself, just before Basta arrives with men to capture Mo. Upon learning that she can read things out of books, after the author notices she brought Toto from the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Basta takes her and Fenoglio back to Capricorn. Elinor, who has a change of heart and does not take the train back to her home, returns to the author’s home and quickly senses trouble, pursuing the captured pair. At the castle, Capricorn reveals to Meggie his intentions of bringing the monstrous Shadow from Inkheart, revealing that, although he burned all the copies, he spared one for such a purpose, threatening to harm her mother if she fails to comply. During this time, Mo sneaks into the castle, but is captured by Capricorn’s henchmen.
After escaping his cell, Mo attempts to free Meggie, Resa and Fenoglio from imprisonment, as Capricorn forces Meggie to read out the Shadow from the book. Meanwhile, Dustfinger sneaks back into the castle with Farid and decide to set it alight, after his conscience gets the better of him. The distraction this causes allows Fenoglio to give Toto a rewrite he made to help Meggie stop Capricorn’s plan. The plan partly works until Capricorn gains the upper hand. Just then, Elinor arrives with the creatures Capricorn imprisoned, giving Mo the opportunity to quickly throw his daughter a pen, allowing her to write out a story on her arm to combat Capricorn’s plan. Meggie quickly reads out her creation, which causes Capricorn to turn into dust, vanishes his henchmen, destroys the Shadow, and return all the read out creatures back where they belong, including Toto. In addition, she grants Fenoglio’s wish, and send him into Inkheart to live in the world he created, while restoring her mother’s voice, allowing her and Mo to finally reunite with her, before fleeing as the castle collapses.
Shortly afterwards, Dustfinger, having missed his chance for Meggie to read him back into his book, decides to leave, not wishing to force Mo and his family to do anything without risking their happiness. As he does, Farid catches up with insisting on travelling with him to find another reader to send him back into the copy of Inkheart he had stolen before the castle collapsed. After a moment’s hesitation, Dustfinger agrees and the two start off together only to have Mo catch them up and fulfill his promise. Dustfinger is soon transported safely back into Inkheart, where he reunites with his wife Roxane at their home. In the real world, Farid quickly reveals he kept Gwin with him, thus allowing Dustfinger to avoid his fate and have control over his destiny. As Mo and his family leave with Farid, Meggie agrees to teach him how to read while Farid agrees to teach her how to use the dragon breath.I like how all the elements from different story books come into our world plot and very interesting fantasy film