I liked this film quite a bit when I first saw it in the cinema and I like it even more after seeing it on DVD. There’s just something right about it; everything seems to click, from the performances to the style to the editing. Layer Cake is slick, smooth, and very clever.

Daniel Craig is clearly the engine behind this film. His is a smart, nuanced performance, simultaneously vulnerable and infallible. No surprise, then, that Craig landed the role of Bond in the upcoming Casino Royale; if Craig brings half the complexity of performance to Bond he’s shown in this film, the franchise is in good hands.

The supporting performances are all strong, as well. A few standouts are Colm Meaney and George Harris as hard-bitten gangsters, tough and ruthless but good men at heart. Michael Gambon, as well, offers another great character role (though ‘role’ is stretching it a bit: his part is little more than a cameo).

First-time director Vaughn (producer of Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Snatch films) holds his own, a punchy editing style combined with a strong sense of composition. Too bad Vaughn backed out of directing X-Men 3; I would’ve liked to have seen his style in that context.

All that said, the film isn’t perfect. The plot’s a bit too complex for its own good and some of the secondary characters seem too colourful, too ‘movie.’ The rest of the film makes up for these weaknesses, however.

What ran the risk of being a second-rate Snatch take-off turned into an interesting, engrossing crime drama under the direction of Matthew Vaughn and thanks to the strengths of Daniel Craig.