Last week, The Retirement Plan disappointed me with its inconsistencies. What I didn’t acknowledge in my review, buried underneath the tacky filmmaking, was a tangent involving a congenial heavy-hitter played by Ron Perlman (of Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy series). Perlman is squandered, portraying a brute named Bobo who shows compassion towards a young victim and eventually seals his fate after reuniting with Season of the Witch co-star Nicolas Cage.
The producers of The Retirement Plan must’ve realized what they had when it was too late because The Baker, a straight action-thriller that pushes Perlman as the headliner in a similar role with familiar motivations, is a welcomed do-over and an overall big improvement (assuming The Baker was shot and completed before The Retirement Plan).
Perlman is a perfect fit as loner baker Pappi. His stature is intimidating, but the dedication to his craft as well as his appreciation for a routine hints towards a warmer side that isn’t seen by many. It’s also clear that Pappi feels like he’s missing companionship in his life. He feels let down, but he also knows how he may have let down others. These conflicting emotions give Pappi a rightful push when he’s placed in a position of power and protection between his granddaughter Delphi (Emma Ho) and thugs who have been wronged by Pappi’s son (Joel David Moore, another returning actor from The Retirement Plan).
The Baker offers all of the nuts and bolts for an exhilarating vigilante action flick. Director Jonathan Sobol (The Art of the Steal) and screenwriters Thomas Michael (Man Vs.) and Paolo Mancini create an interesting villain tier (portrayed effectively by Elias Koteas, Harvey Keitel, and a small of army of scene-stealing bit players) for Pappi to climb, contributing as well to a tight collection of featured fights. While these brawls are sometimes shot too closely, the scenes are choreographed and edited well, and the movie maintains its stamina throughout. Even after a peak shakedown in a public bathroom that rivals the thrills from Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the entertainment quality of The Baker never lets up.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie