The Baker movie poster

The Baker

In theaters July 28, 2023


, ,

104 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , ,

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.

The Baker (2022) is another out of retirement hitman movie with heart. That heart is not enough to completely save it, but it does make it watchable.

Pappi (Ron Pearlman) runs a small bakery on his own time. He is quiet but gruff, and leads a solitary life which is upended when his estranged son, David (Joel David Moore), shows up unannounced with his 8-year-old granddaughter, Delphi (Emma Ho). Delphi hasn’t spoken since the death of her mother, which makes communicating with her frustrating. David is into some sketchy business and leaves Delphi with Pappi to tend to some business. After a disturbing phone call, Pappi decides he needs to step in and help David as well as save his granddaughter from the men after her, drawing on some neglected skills to get his point of protection across.

Using Léon: The Professional (1994) and Night of the Hunter (1955) as inspiration, The Baker manages to craft a story that is all generational abuse with very little action. These are thin caricatures pantomiming a well-trod tale without offering emotion or connection. We know how stories like this end, but the journey is through faded postcards of places where we had a better time.

Ron Perlman and Emma Ho give the best they can, with what they’re working with but the distance between the characters is far too vast. This is not an acting issue, but without a story or direction as filler, it’s not enough to fill the screen with meaningful stares and monosyllabic grunts. Joel David Moore plays a version of the character he always plays and there’s no surprise as to the direction his character takes. It’s one thing to hire professionals who know how to act and can give a great performance, but they really need a solid script and direction to coax out that great performance.

Sadly, The Baker is too airy to be filling, and too heavy on salt to be palatable.

The Baker (2022) is rated R for swears and cliched mob violence. You’ve seen it before, so try to pretend to be shocked.

The Baker is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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