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|“||Details, details. Things to do, things to get done. Don't bother me with details, just tell me when they're done.||„|
|~ Jimmy in an affable mood|
Jimmy Price is a major crime boss, cocaine baron and investor in the 2004 film Layer Cake. He is also the boss and supplier of the film's main character (known only as XXXX), and insists that the lion's share of proceeds from each successful sale to go to him. Though apparently one of the more reasonable figures of London's underworld, he soon begins providing the protagonist and his associates with a number of extremely questionable orders, suggesting that Jimmy might not have XXXX's best interests at heart.
He was portrayed by Kenneth Cranham, who also played Phillip Channard in Hellraiser II, and James Reaper in Hot Fuzz.
James Lionel Price reportedly grew up in an impoverished region of London alongside fellow criminals Eddie Temple and Albie Carter; however, where Carter joined the police force and Eddie found success in both the legitimate and criminal world, Jimmy gravitated strongly towards the underworld and made only token attempts to leave. As he grew older, he was careful to remain close to his friends from the old neighborhood, eager to somehow exploit their success - Eddie later comparing Jimmy to a remora fish for this very reason.
By the late 1970s, Jimmy was part of a "kamikaze" gang led by notorious mobster Crazy Larry Flynn, alongside fellow partners in crime Gene and Morty; though most of the gang were content to get high and commit crimes in as violent a manner as possible without worrying about police attention, Jimmy disapproved of Crazy Larry's flamboyant lifestyle. He'd noticed how the usual profits from armed robbery paled in comparison to the money they could earn by dealing drugs, and yearned for the day when he could transform the chaotic stick-up mob into a proper business.
One night, a fellow gang member by the name of Kilburn Jerry committed suicide in front of the entire group, apparently having been raped by Larry some time before. Unable to call emergency services thanks to their status as known criminals, Larry assigned Morty and Freddy Hurst to drive the corpse to a gravesite out of town, with Morty guarding the body and Freddy driving the van; unfortunately, Hurst was both drunk and stoned, and ended up falling asleep while stopped at a set of traffic lights. Before Morty could investigate the sudden lag, a policeman happened to notice their van idling in the middle of the road and investigated, very quickly finding Jerry's body sitting in the back right next to Morty. Thanks to common racial prejudices of the time, Morty was sentenced to ten years in prison for murder, while Freddy was let off with little more than a slap on the wrist.
Having witnessed similar incidents throughout Larry's career, it was not long before Jimmy decided that this incident was final proof that Larry was officially out of control, and went on to convince Gene that their leader had to go; after a brief planning session, Gene was able to sneak into the demented gangster's bedroom and assassinate him before he could even wake up. As a result, Jimmy took over the gang and all of its assets, gradually rebuilding the kamikaze mob into a much more stable crime syndicate.
Thirteen Million Pounds
Eventually, Jimmy became rich and successful enough to make himself a presence in more respectable circles, thanks in part due to Eddie Temple's assistance. Among other things, he obtained membership at the exclusive Stoke Park Country Club and regularly attended charity golf tournaments hosted by Eddie - the latter allowed mainly because Eddie's friends found Jimmy's crass mannerisms "absurdly hilarious".
However, Jimmy's greed had begun to eclipse his common sense: though cocaine trafficking resulted in billions of dollars a year in profit, he always wanted more to replace what he had spent on fine living and fine clothes. And while XXXX's work for the syndicate boosted profits tenfold, Jimmy secretly despised the well-educated drug dealer, calling him "a flash runt" behind his back and exploiting him for as much as he could get away with; he was also personally offended by XXXX's plans to retire, believing that people like him made too much money to ever be allowed to leave the lifestyle.
Some time prior to the events of the film, Jimmy was fishing for new business leads at one of Eddie's golf tournaments when he unexpectedly befriended the Energy Minister of an unnamed African Republic, reportedly trawling the west for investors. Over the course of their meeting, the Minister and his entourage revealed that the Republic was possessed of vast untapped natural resources, including gold and diamonds, a highly-profitable venture for any investor willing to take the chance. Excited, Jimmy informed Eddie of the deal, recognizing it as an unprecedented opportunity to not only make money, but to buy controlling influence over a government.
Eddie Temple, ever the more cautious of the two crime lords, made a conservative investment of 500,000 pounds - "a cheeky half-mil", as he put it. However, Jimmy's avarice and vanity had gotten the better of him, and he ended up contributing 13,000,000 pounds to the bargain, his ego only expanding further when the Republic made him an honorary citizen - even one of the tribe - as a reward for his donation.
In the end, the deal fell apart: though the Republic was just as rich in natural resources as the initial surveys had suggested, its government was secretly facing a major communist uprising; by time anyone in the west realized how dire the political situation really was, the hard-line communists had already overtaken the mining areas and were en route to the capital with little resistance, forcing the corrupt Energy Minister to flee for Zurich - taking Jimmy's money with him.
Humiliated by the disaster, unable to get any returns on his investment from a government uninterested in bargaining with capitalists, unwilling to admit to the depths of his own error and all but broke for good measure, Jimmy accused Eddie of instigating the incident and began plotting a means of getting his money back. The first and foremost of these involved Eddie flying to Zurich and negotiating with the Energy Minister to return "little Jimmy's nest egg," but Eddie predictably refused these demands. Foiled for the time being, Jimmy sulkily returned to looking for profitable opportunities in which to invest his remaining funds.
Just prior to the events of the film, Jimmy was contacted by a dimwitted low-scale crime boss known only as "The Duke" offering to sell at least a million Ecstasy pills and "massive amounts of MDMA," likely worth several million pounds if sold and distributed correctly. Eager to recoup his losses from the botched investment, Jimmy agreed to set up a transaction for the pills, trusting XXXX and his associates to carry out the deal.
Events of the Film
Following their latest successful sale, XXXX and Morty are invited to lunch with Jimmy at Stoke Park; there, over brandy and cigars, Jimmy assigns them the task of buying the pills from the Duke. However, he also provides XXXX with a more unorthodox task, supposedly as a favor to Eddie Temple: Eddie's cocaine-addicted daughter, Charlotte, has left rehab ahead of schedule and mysteriously vanished. Still playing the part of Eddie's good friend, Jimmy naturally wants "Charlie" found.
Confused, XXXX agrees to this service, making use of the con artists Tiptoe and Cody to search for Charlotte. Unfortunately, the Duke is not willing to listen to XXXX's more reasoned approach to sale and distribution, and ends up walking away with the impression that the pills are worthless - an impression he shares with Jimmy. Soon after, Jimmy calls XXXX in a towering rage, all traces of his earlier affability vanishing in the ensuing temper tantrum: he lambastes the drug dealer at length about hiring help to find Charlotte, insisting that he find her himself, and demands that the pills be sold immediately - Jimmy clearly being more desperate than ever to recoup his losses. In a further display of greed eclipsing his good sense, he refuses to listen when XXXX attempts to explain that the Duke actually stole the Ecstasy from a gang of Serbian war criminals, shouting "I don't give a fuck" when it is revealed that the Serbs have already killed one of the Duke's associates in revenge.
Later, XXXX is abducted from his hotel room and dragged to the top of a nearby skyscraper, where he is introduced to Eddie Temple. After a tense standoff, Eddie explains the full extent of his old friend's debts and reveals that Jimmy was not looking for Charlotte as a favor at all: he was hoping to capture her and hold her to ransom in an attempt to force Eddie to retrieve the lost 13,000,000 pounds from Zurich. He was also willing to put XXXX in harm's way, hoping to use him as a scapegoat for Eddie's wrath - a possible alternative to Jimmy's next get-rich-quick scheme.
As it soon becomes apparent, Jimmy is actually a police informant, providing his old friend Albie Carter with uncooperative members of his syndicate in exchange for hefty payouts from the crooked crime squad; XXXX himself is the latest target of this agreement, having been set up for a prison sentence of at least twelve years. Regardless of whether XXXX ends up dead at Eddie's hands or arrested by the police, Jimmy will be able to embezzle the drug dealer's unattended funds and become rich all over again.
Once he's finished explaining this, Eddie returns XXXX to his home. Enraged by the betrayal, XXXX takes immediate action by sneaking into the grounds of Jimmy's palatial mansion and killing the crime lord with a single shot to the head. Unfortunately, it's quickly revealed that XXXX has played right into Eddie's hands, effectively allowing the crime boss to dispose of a potential threat without getting his hands dirty - likely the only reason Eddie told him about the betrayal in the first place.
At first, Jimmy appears to be the ideal employer: calm, reasonable, and generous, he lavishes his employees with expensive lunches at Stoke Park, regaling them with paternal wisdom and amiable charm - even asking XXXX to "call me Jimmy.".
In reality, this personality is little more than a facade: while nowhere near as stupid as the Duke or as volatile as Crazy Larry, Jimmy's greed has long since overshadowed any real intelligence or affability on his part, a fact that becomes increasingly noticeable as the introductory lunch continues. For example, when XXXX remarks on an "expansive" question, Jimmy sneeringly takes his eloquence as proof of him being a homosexual (or as he puts it, "behind in the rent"). Stress over the Duke's incompetence and the lack of recouped losses peel away further layers of this disguise, prompting a furious over-the-phone tirade to XXXX in which he rails at his underling for hiring someone else to find Charlotte and loses his temper entirely when XXXX makes the mistake of taking his advice and calling him "Jimmy."
The full extent of his unpleasantness becomes clear in the recorded conversation between him and Albie Carter: here, he mocks Gene for his loyalty, dismisses Jamaican deaths in the district as "spades killing spades," and refers to XXXX's accountant as a "Paki" and a "f**king raghead." His greed and ego are also on full display by this point: quite apart from refusing to accept the fact that the loss of the thirteen million pounds was his fault and his alone, Jimmy is simply too avaricious to recognize any sort of risk, be it the risk that the Serbians might have him assassinated as well, the risk that Internal Affairs might one day put a stop to his dealings with Carter, the risk that Eddie might cotton on to his plans, or - most prominently of all - the risk that XXXX might discover the truth and retaliate accordingly.