Sheep Shouldn’t Really Explode!
What Is – The Baker?
I was not going to write a review of The Baker until a Sheep exploded, and Sheep shouldn’t really explode.
The Baker is a British black comedy written and directed by Gareth Lewis (brother to Damian) and released in 2007 (although Amazon have it listed as 2020 and possibly have it confused with comedy short of the same name). Created using a budget of $2,500,000 (estimated) the Baker stars Damian Lewis, in his pre Homeland guise, as the titular Character. Note for Americans – The Baker is called Assassin in Love.
Lewis plays a hitman and after a ‘hit’ gets interrupted, he is told to go and hide at a safe house to try and evade a fellow assassin who is on his tail. The safe house happens to be in a remote Welsh village and is the disused village bakery. Harassed by inquisitive eccentric locals the assassin has no choice but to adopt the ‘Village Baker’ persona and try to fit in despite having zero knowledge of baking. His plight is made worse by the local village idiot (being an idiot), eccentric villagers that confuse chocolate cake with ordering hits on people they do not like, and a romantic entanglement with the local vet. What ensues is a darkly funny, at times laugh out loud story of love, loyalty, betrayal and confusion.
Trailer: The Baker…
Stand Out Casting
Damian Lewis as Milo “The Baker” Shakespeare.
For several years Damian Lewis was touted to play James Bond. The Baker gives us a glimpse of what his bond would look like and it would have been glorious. From his Goldeneye style introduction – jumping down into a toilet cubicle to take out a target, to his Suave seduction of a local vet and handling of fight scenes he looks like he is enjoying every moment on screen. If I am being critical this he does seem to mumble a couple of lines but other than that Damian Lewis carries the film well, and perhaps most surprisingly, his comic timing is on point. The Character of Milo doesn’t seem to have the biggest of character arcs and he is on the obvious route of turning away from his Hit Man occupation. It is a little bit assassin cliché that has been seen over and over again.
Kate Ashfield as Liz – sorry that was Shaun of the Dead….. aherm… Kate Ashfield as Rhiannon
Kates’s talents are not wasted in The Baker, She plays the village vet and love interest. She has a great onscreen chemistry with Damian and is well cast as Rhiannon. Kate also looks like she is having great fun on screen and tonally matches Damian Lewis beat for beat. There is an attempt at introducing a back story for Rhiannon but it is flimsy at best and quickly forgotten. It is also a shame that Rhiannon spends most of the final act with her mouth literally sellotaped together.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Bjorn.
Well before his turn of Jamie Lannister in Game Of Thrones, Nikolaj was running round English Chip Shops tracking down The Baker. His appearance is brief throughout the film, but he does steal the scenes he is in, and we even get to see a glimpse of his talent with sword play pre G-O-T. Bjorn has a slightly more defined back story that is revealed at the end of the movie in a surprising twist. No spoilers as to what that it, but it brings some life into the assassin chasing assassin plot line.
The Baker Production Values
The Baker is filmed in traditional 35MM wide screen format and is presented in Widescreen HD. Rummaging around the internet I can only find DVD releases and rental available on Prime Video so no 4K availability. I watched using Prime video and picture was good and colour reproduction fine. Full HD or 4K may be overkill for this production..
The sound is typical Dolby Digital. Just like the video it is perfectly adequate for what is required. As mentioned some dialogue does sound mumbled at first, but once you dial into what is being said you quickly get used to it.
The score is a pretty standard affair and I am unable to locate it separately to play. The film does make fun use of a couple of tracks including a love scene set to Shake Sonora
Nothing looks odd with this film, costumes all look normal, it does have a few visual effects, they are used sparingly and to comic effect. When they are used the visual effects look well produced and it is not a bad job considering the budget used.
This starts of being a typical Spy want to leave job type of film. Other than an interesting twist it offers nothing revolutionary for the genre. The comedy comes from observational humour at village life. The characters seem pretty one dimensional and quite stereotypical. This is not a bad thing as the writing achieves what it needs to and any attempt to flesh out the villagers would have bloated the story unnecessarily, and possibly detracted away from the humour being created. – protect the gnomes 🙂
What To Watch Out For?
Look out for Michael Gambon making an appearance as Leo – the Bakers mentor/boss
Welsh Actor Dyfan Dwyfor as the Village Idiot ‘Eggs’ he has a unsavoury fascination with fertiliser explosive that is never really explained, poor Sheep!
Is The Baker any Good?
Gareth Lewis has created something both silly and fun. I started watching The Baker not expecting too much and I certainly was not planning on giving it a score, but after the first few minutes I realised this was going to be a fun film. Yes the script may be a little light, and yes the laughs may be directed straight at village stereotypes, but watching The Baker is an entertaining experience.
How Popular Is The Baker 2007?
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