out of Five
Running time: 85
Below average comedy thriller that can't decide whether it wants to be a rom-com, a thriller or a black comedy and settles for an unsatisfying mix of all three.
What's it all about?
Damian Lewis stars as Milo, a hitman who lets his latest target go free, only for rival hitman Bjorn (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to pop up and finish the job for him, gleefully threatening to shop Milo to his bosses. Sure enough, Milo soon finds himself the target of a hit, so his handler, Leo (Michael Gambon) suggests that he hole himself up somewhere safe.
Leo sends Milo to an old bakery in a small Welsh village and the arrival of the new baker soon sets tongues wagging, particularly when he catches the eye of local girl Rhiannon (Kate Ashfield). However, a rumour spreads that Milo is actually a hitman and some of the villagers decide that a hired professional might be the answer to their problems.
The Baker starts well, setting up its premise quickly and delivering an imaginatively staged action sequence with Milo dodging bullets in his apartment. However, the thriller element is then promptly abandoned and apart from an amusing revelation towards the end of the film, none of the comedy really works either.
Lewis is a likeable actor and he has been sensational elsewhere (see Keane) but he struggles to find the right tone here, largely due to a patchy script that's too afraid to take the leap into black comedy that the film desperately needs. Similarly, there's very little chemistry between Lewis and Ashfield, despite a blatant rip-off of the comedy sex scene from The Tall Guy.
It doesn't help that the film is very similar to the recently released You Kill Me, an equally disappointing comedy thriller with Ben Kingsley. Ultimately, however, the film is frustrating because there's the occasional hint of a better film trying to get out.
The Baker suffers from an undercooked script and confused direction, resulting in a bland and unsatisfying mess, rather than the spicy comedy it should have been.