Having produced a few Guy Ritchie movies, Matthew Vaughn reckoned he could do as good a job himself with London gangster flick Layer Cake. Critics inevitably compared the two filmmakers, tagging this "Lock, Stock without the laughs", but Vaughn isn't worried since scoring a BAFTA nomination for Most Promising Newcomer. This also marks yet another standout performance by Daniel Craig, whose only rival in the contest for most movie appearances of 2004 was Jude Law.
Get Outta The Kitchen
A promotional featurette reveals that 'layer cake' is a metaphor for the many echelons of underworld society, but with only five minutes to sell the movie, interviews with cast and crew are reduced to mere soundbites. Thankfully the National Film Theatre's Q&A session with Matthew Vaughn and Daniel Craig is a much more insightful investigation into the filmmaking process. Vaughn points out that he deliberately excluded "the funny bits" to avoid comparisons with Guy Ritchie (ooh, shame about that), and aimed for the lush visuals of Michael Mann's Heat rather than the "kitchen-sink" aesthetic usually associated with British films. By the end of filming, he says, "I felt like I'd found my vocation," while Craig sums up his experience, saying, "I felt satisfied and knackered."
Vaughn goes into scene-specific detail about his creative choices in a feature commentary with writer JJ Connolly (who also wrote the book on which the film is based). Both men, but particularly Connolly, are very softly spoken, so it's occasionally difficult to decipher what's being said. However, if you train your ear to it, there's some interesting stuff here. For instance, the part of Sidney was rewritten for actor Ben Wishaw who was initially deemed "too young and too skinny" to make a believable tough guy. Vaughn is pretty pleased with himself for looking beyond the physical traits; nonetheless Connolly wasn't happy about having to make the changes. "I'm not saying it was a masterstroke," he tells Vaughn, "you just lucked out."
Slicing The Cake
The duo also provides commentary for 13 deleted scenes, including two alternate endings that Vaughn says, "Sony forced us to shoot" - of course they're a different shade of rosy than what exists in the final cut. On the whole, these scenes are mostly expositional, except for one wryly amusing vignette that's sort of like GoodFellas meets The Royle Family.
Storyboard and photo galleries plus the Hayling music video by FC Kahuna complete this modest selection of features. You might expect more from a two-disc package, still Layer Cake offers just enough to sink your teeth into.