Strapline: Never underestimate a man with nothing to lose
In a nutshell:
Adam Jones is a chef who destroyed his career with drugs and a diva lifestyle. He cleans up and returns to London, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can gain three Michelin stars.
The last time I saw Bradley Cooper he was lying astride his McMillan TAC-338 sniper rifle as he portrayed Navy S.E.A.L Chris Kyle in Clint Eastwood’s much talked about American Sniper (2014). This time round Cooper swaps the desert for the dessert. He may not be in a war but is very much still in the firing line. Burnt is a story of one man’s redemption, as he claws his way back from hell. Adam Jones who was once a leading Head Chef in a chic well known Parisian restaurant, blew it all. Heading into a downward spiral of a battle with drugs, drink and a string of women. Now Jones is back, in London with one thing on his mind, 3 Michelin stars.
I enjoyed Burnt, Bradley Cooper equites himself very well in the lead role. Coming from a hotel and catering background myself I have come up against my fair share of Head Chefs. Cooper channels the intensity of this very stressful role well and is convincing as the fastidious chef. Also given my time in France, I appreciated the use of French at times during the film.
Best in support is Daniel Brühl as Tony the restaurant’s Maître d’hôtel. Sienna Miller also provides solid support as Helene, Jones’s Sous-chef who’s also a single mom. Miller who also portrayed Cooper’s onscreen wife in American Sniper. Unfortunately where Burnt falls down in regards to its casting is that it fails to really utilize the likes of some big stars such as Emma Thompson, Alicia Vikander and Uma Thurman. Uma Thurman’s character barely registers a pulse in her fleeting cameo as a restaurant critic. The same can also be said for Lilly James (Cinderella) as a girlfriend of one of Jones’s team. Only Thompson just about manages to get enough to make her time worthwhile.
To start Burnt is a relatively slow burn, but as the camaraderie of Adam Jones’s team start to coalesce like one of their sauces, things start to click into place. As a result, come the third act I was really into the team’s quest to achieve the illustrious grade of excellence.
Other than casting as mentioned above my other issues with Burnt would be that as ultimately it’s a story of redemption it’s pretty predictable, and there is a sidebar story line of Cooper’s character owing some money to a drug kingpin that was largely superfluous. But due to good direction by John Wells (Who among other things was an exec-producer on The West Wing), a script by Steven Knight (Locke) and a great central turn I was invested. It’s also well shot and like Jon Favreau’s Chef (2014) makes excellent use of its culinary theme. Don’t watch this on an empty stomach or alternatively stock up at the confectionery stand before hand. However the reason why Burnt shines is that behind it’s obvious setting, themes such as rejection, determination and redemption strike a chord with us all.
Waiting for the some of the big hitters to swing our way later this month, you can do a lot worse than checking out Burnt. With good direction, a good script and a strong central turn from Cooper with excellent support from Brühl and Miller it’s a decent movie. Although it’s ultimately predictable I think I’m fairly safe to say you won’t get Burnt.