If you had any reason to think Ron Perlman’s viral message to studio executives lacked menace, you should see what he can do with a rolling pin. That’s just one of the weapons he deploys in The Baker, which will bow exclusively in theaters beginning July 28.
The flick is being released via Falling Forward Films and lensed partially in the Cayman Islands, doubling for urban locations.
Perlman plays the titular character. But he isn’t just a baker. He knows a thing or two about handguns as well. “You sure you know how to handle that thing?” one gangster asks when The Baker confiscates his weapon. “You mean the Beretta M9?” he responds. “Short recoil, 15 rounds, standard mag, semiautomatic, 9 mm? Pistol of choice of the U.S. Military from Kosovo to the Afgahan Mountains and most recently used to murder my son?”
Yeah, the protagonist hasn’t always been a baker. Weapons skills layer on top of proficiency in stealth, Slavic languages, and breads of several varieties. Those emerge following a botched effort by The Baker’s estranged son to capitalize on a grim business opportunity. With a granddaughter he’s just met in tow, he must leave his quiet bakery storefront for an investigation and revenge quest. There’s a sense he’s not in unfamiliar territory.
None of that, nor a red-band trailer mean you should expect another John Wick at the theater. The Baker’s aspirations under the direction of Jonathan Sobol are more modest. It has a ‘70s crime drama vibe. In spite of its aging hero, its blood pressure never gets too high.
The film burns slow, occasionally edging into brutal violence, and it’s handled by a cast of seasoned pros joining Perlman. That lineup includes Joel David Moore (Avatar: The Way of Water) as the son mentioned in the snippet above, Harvey Keitel (Pulp Fiction), and Elias Koteas (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
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There are some missed opportunities, probably at the script level. With those veterans, you’d expect some sparklingly banter when Perlman and Keitel finally get in the same room, but things don’t quite turn Tarantino-esque.
Poignant scenes fare better with the granddaughter, Delphi, played with charm by Emma Ho (The Expanse). Plagued by selective mutism since her mother’s death in a car accident, she’s forceful and adamant about seatbelt safety at times. Despite estrangement from his son, we learn The Baker has some mad parenting skills too. He can fix a boo-boo as well as he can handle a rolling pin in the kitchen (or a street fight).
Again, don’t go looking for another John Wick, but if you need a 1:44 break from Barbenheimer and you have a taste for gritty crime flicks, check your local marquee.