By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Welcome to Hell’s Kitchen, Hollywood style. Well, Bradley Cooper isn’t exactly portraying the infamous Gordon Ramsay in Burnt, but he may as well be. Writers Steven Knight, Michael Kalesniko, director John Wells and actor Bradley Cooper obviously drew some inspiration from the fiery tempered chef, which is fine. However, the film’s problems come from its by-the-numbers approach to a redemption story. Cooper may deliver an impressive performance, but the film itself offers audiences nothing all that new.
Cooper stars as Adam Jones, a once exceptional, Michelin award-winning chef who accomplishes success at a young age, but crashes and burns due to his adoption of a rock and roll lifestyle. After cleaning up and doing his penance, Jones is ready to rise from his self-imposed ashes. He returns to London and contacts all of his former colleagues, kitchen staff members and recruits a few new faces as well. One of his recruits is a new up and comer named Helene (Sienna Miller), a talented chef whose passion for cuisine rivals that of Jones.
Knight, Kalesniko, and Wells have made a film that is held back by its conventional approach. This approach to the material actually mirrors a theme within their own movie. Jones not only has to get back in the saddle again, but the trail ahead has changed since he last visited it. He has to learn the new styles and techniques and think outside of the box. Had the filmmakers learned from this message in their film, I might actually be giving it a more favorable review.
That is not to say the movie and characters are not at all intriguing. Adam Jones may be mostly unlikable, but some audiences will actually connect with his passion for his art and craft. Cooper delivers an exciting performance in this role. Sienna Miller performs well as his love interest and the two share a credible chemistry, but the relationship does feel a bit contrived at times. Burnt also stars Daniel Bruhl, Omar Sy, Stephen Campbell Moore, and Emma Thompson, who all perform solidly in their roles.
The laudable acting of the cast actually makes the film watchable and redeems the movie a little. Had the story not been so predictable and pedestrian, I would have definitely rated it much higher. Though the producers are probably wishing for it. Burnt is not this year’s Chef.