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XXXX (Daniel Craig):

“Always remember that one day all this drug monkey business will be legal. They won’t leave it to people like me… not when they finally figure out how much money is to be made – not millions, fucking billions. Recreational drugs PLC – giving the people what they want… Good times today, Stupor tomorrow. But this is now, so until prohibition ends make hay whilst the sun shines.”

Wow, those damned Brits! They sure know what they’re doing when it comes to crime flicks. I honestly haven’t seen many of the British variety, but for a genre that in recent times has been dominated by the, in my opinion, WAY-too-over-the-top Guy Ritchie, this Daniel Craig door-opener directed by newcomer Michael Vaughn REALLY took the cake (pun completely intended).

The story centers around a character who is known as “XXXX” in the credits. Craig played the anonymous character so convincingly, with a sensibility and stare that could rival Christopher Walken’s,that the impact caused me to just know the character even without a lable. If Daniel Craig has nothing else going for him (and he does) its those damn cold-blue eyes. The character is a young cocaine dealer, very professional and businesslike, who aims to retire soon after he completes two jobs. Trouble arises when he’s asked to locate another mob bosses’s daughter and also to sell off one million Excstacy pills.

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And a gang of Serbs want him dead if he doesn’t bring them the head of a megalomaniac cockney drug dealer. And he doesn’t know who’s trying to screw him over on his own side- everything is spiraling out of control.

But as previously mentioned, this film is not an insane “Look at me, I’m Guy Ritchie and I can edit like a teenage shroom addict with Adobe After Effects” British crime flick- its a well paced, easy to swallow yet still brilliantly shot crime-character painting. The many different colors of crime are present here- the dealers, the hitmen, the thiefs and the killers. Its stylish, but not bombastic, and for that you get to center in on the charismatic acting of Craig, who got to practice his torture reactions long before the Testicals of Insanity scene from Casino Royale. Vividly shot, the film goes from 0 to 60 over its brisk 105 minutes- a really great amount of time for a crime flick. Most don’t pack this much punch in two and a half hours, especially in recent years, and anything shorter is usually just a bunch of attention-span-deprived grade school crap for people who aren’t willing to look at characters who are more than just stereotypical, or gimmicks.

Colm Meany George Harris (Black Hawk Down) and Colm Meaney (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) have brilliant supporting roles as the two old-timer drug dealers who are trying to make sure Craig’s character stays on the right track, all the while being part of one of the biggest set ups in recent film history. In my opinion, the ending has only been met in terms of direction with Scorcesese’s recent masterpiece The Departed in terms of wrapping things up in a neat, tidy, “didn’t see that coming” surprise finale. Layer Cake George Harris
Filled with suspense, rife with tension, and spiced with some one-shot action here and there, this film entertains on a grand and intimate level- never deviating into scenes of complete disbelief. I have to say one of my favorite scenes involves Craig’s character being shot at by an unknown adversary, with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Watch for this scene- its a keeper, and most of the other ones are too!

If you loved Casino Royale and agree that Craig deserves the role of Bond, then watch this movie and see why they GAVE it to him! He’s cold but he’s real, just like the theme of this movie- crime is a business to many, it exists, and it is unavoidable. An honest living is made off of it by some, but when taken too far, even the killers and drug dealers have someone dangerous and evil to watch out for: each other.

This film is highly recommended, striking quite the nasty pose!

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