I’ve had a long-standing love affair with the films of Matthew Vaughn, from his latest flick, the bonkers comic-book spy romp Kingsman: The Secret Service, all the way back to his feature film debut Layer Cake. That 2004 debut film, which is based on JJ Connoly’s novel of the same name, saw a pre-007 Daniel Craig as an unnamed British drug dealer (or XXXX, if you prefer) getting up to all sorts of double-crossing trouble when his gangster boss gives him an almost impossible job (which obviously doesn’t go according to plan) to pull off on the day before his planned retirement.
It’s stylish, violent, often hilarious, unabashedly British (you may need a translator for some of the heavy lingo) and still a huge favourite of mine more than a decade later, so really, I should not be happy about the news that a sequel is being made without Vaughn. And yet, I am, all because of two words: “Jason” and “Statham”.
Way back in 2013 there was already talk of the English ‘ard man taking over Craig’s role in a Vaughan-less follow-up film, but nothing much came of it. Speaking to Digital Spy this week though, Statham confirmed that not only is it still happening, but he hopes to start shooting next year. He’s also confirmed that the film will be based on “Viva La Madness”, Connolly’s follow-up novel to Layer Cake, and which the author will adapting into a script himself.
“JJ Connelly’s written a great book called Viva La Madness, and we’re taking that book and doing something great with it. He’s such a talented writer… the book was incredible. I loved Layer Cake and this is [if anything] better.
“The chance to work with someone of that calibre, do something back home, it’s the most exciting thing on my plate… We’re doing it next year, and it’s full steam ahead. We’re putting all the finance together, and we’re off and racing.”
We all know that Statham can play an English gangster in his sleep, but as you guys will soon find out in the screechingly funny Spy (look out for my review tomorrow), he’s also fantastic at dry deadpan comedy, which the original Layer Cake had in spades. His take on XXXX is actually something I would be very interested in seeing. The only question now is who would direct. C’mon, Matthew Vaughn. You can easily multitask between this and Flash Gordon. I have faith.
Here’s the Amazon synopsis for Viva La Madness:
J. J. Connolly the favorite voice of London gangster fiction returns with a tour de force: the Get Carter of the noughties, Layer Cake has also been made into a highly-praised film by Matthew Vaughn, starring Daniel Craig and Sienna Miller (it’s also the most shoplifted book in England).
Now Connolly is back with a sequel that sees him on the same stunning form, with his trademark razor-sharp dialogue and quick-fire violence, but also finding dark humor and pathos in the lives of violent men. From the London underworld, Viva la Madness moves to international crime with trans-Atlantic drug deals, money laundering, and high-tech electronic fraud, portrayed with the same uncanny believability. The anonymous hero of Layer Cake is pulled back into the drug game before he can escape to a sunny retirement. In a dazzling combination of London low-life, Caribbean high-life, and Venezuelan drug cartels toting machine-guns in Mayfair, our hero’s voice and mission are authentic, thrilling, and whiplash-inducing in equal shares.
Also, there better be a seen with somebody being beat down to some Duran Duran.
Last Updated: June 2, 2015