Actually, you can.
In fact, true ballers high enough in the drug chain with any intelligence and foresight do plan to get out on their own terms. But due to greed, convenience, ego, fantastical thinking, love of living large, and myriad other rationalizations such a noble goal is unattainable to everyone but the most disciplined few.
Rare. But it does happen.
That's what I really like about Layer Cake and Daniel Craig's character in particular; he's sort of living out the ultimate fantasy of every enterprising illegal drug dealer on the planet with greater ambitions. He views his profession not as a lifetime occupation (who grows up wanting to become a drug dealer anyway?) but strictly a temporary means to raise enough seed capital to nurture his own entrepreneurial ideas into legitimate, commercially profitable enterprises. This happens more than you might expect in the real world as many successful companies past and present, all around the world, including perhaps a disproportionately large number in the entertainment and music sectors, received their initial round of funding through ill gotten gains. Well documented are companies where the founders themselves, ex post facto statutes of limitations, reveal the key ingredients behind their success in interviews, memoirs, or tell-all book deals. As Craig's character says with typical aplomb in his money line:
"I'm a businessman whose commodity happens to be cocaine."
From the beginning he spells out his recipe for success in narrating a few golden rules, teaching the uninformed viewer about a doctrine seared into the mind of everyone familiar with success in this very specialized industry:
"Always work in a small team. Keep a very low profile, only deal with people who come recommended. It's like selling anything: washing machines, hand-made shoes, blow-jobs. As long as you don't take the pis people will always come back for more. That's not to say we don't weave that magic that makes two kilos into three, but never be too greedy. Know and respect your enemy. It's only very, very stupid people who think the law is stupid. And avoid like the effacing plague loud, attention-seeking wannabe gangsters, in it for the glory, to be a face, to be a name."
I think of slinging for men much like stripping is for women. It's a young person's game since it's easy money, you can work your own hours, and is next to impossible for most people to get out of once you've experienced life in the ultra fast lane. And following the golden rules while founding, saving, and re-investing in legitimate enterprises while setting a cap on your earnings when you force yourself to get out and get out for good is the province of only the most driven, organized, and ultra-disciplined elite.
But it is possible, and it does and has happened.
Which is where Daniel Craig's character comes to play; as the living on-screen embodiment representing all the characteristics that should provide him a recipe to succeed as a member of this revered elite. Possessing his trademark aura of coolness in the film that would make him a future Bond, Craig infuses in his character the work of a natural; a cunning business acumen with the prescient ability to think a step ahead while maintaining a healthy dose of paranoia as required to excel in the game.
This player is so good, you're bound to even forget his name, except, when you discover that even an elite like himself will still be subject to the countless temptations, machinations, manipulations, and those pesky golden rules that always threaten to mess up his game.
And that's where the fun ride begins. Only the very ending, which, as a matter of taste and style some liked and others hated with my opinion siding squarely in the latter prevents me from doling out a perfect grade. But unlike some movies, the ending is not a fatal flaw since it doesn't ruin the rest of the movie. It's still well worth watching, especially to those looking for the future James Bond's precursory role. Peeling back the layers of intrigue of the Layer Cake(2004) takes you for an always engaging, very entertaining ride!
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