Review: ‘The Baker’ (2023), starring Ron Perlman, Elias Koteas, Joel David Moore, Samantha Kaine, Dax Ravina, Emma Ho and Harvey Keitel

July 28, 2023

by Carla Hay

Ron Perlman and Harvey Keitel in “The Baker” (Photo courtesy of Falling Forward Films)

“The Baker” (2023)

Directed by Jonathan Sobol

Culture Representation: Taking place in unnamed U.S. cities, the action film “The Baker” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some Latinos and African Americans) representing the working-class, middle-class and criminal underground.

Culture Clash: A mysterious baker, who is a military veteran with a shady past, goes on a vigilante rampage, with his 8-year-old granddaughter, against the drug dealers who killed his son.

Culture Audience: “The Baker” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the movie’s headliners and predictable “shoot ’em up” action flicks.

Emma Ho and Joel David Moore in in “The Baker” (Photo courtesy of Falling Forward Films)

If you’ve seen any forgettable vigilante action flick, then you already know what to expect from “The Baker,” which is formulaic nonsense about a troubled baker who has his 8-year-old granddaughter tagging along for his violent revenge spree. The reason for this rampage is because the baker’s son has gone missing after getting mixed up with a drug deal gone bad. You know where all of this is going, of course.

Directed by Jonathan Sobol, “The Baker” uses the same old tiresome clichés about a grumpy loner with a shady past who goes on a killing spree to avenge something wrong that happened to a family member. “The Baker” takes place in unnamed U.S. cities but was actually filmed in Canada. Paolo Mancini and Thomas Michael wrote the lazy and unimaginative screenplay for “The Baker.”

The movie’s title character is Pappi Sabinski (played by Ron Perlman), a U.S. military veteran who often has nightmares from his post-traumatic stress disorder and other bad memories from his past. Pappi is a bachelor who lives by himself and owns a small business called Pappi’s Bake Shop, where he is the only employee. Pappi is estranged from his only child: a son in his 40s named Peter (played by Joel David Moore), who has a lot of resentment toward Pappi because he doesn’t think Pappi was a good father.

Peter is a single father to an 8-year-old daughter named Delphi (played by Emma Ho), who is mute and who is enrolled in a private school where the students are required to wear uniforms. An early scene in the movie shows a drug deal turn deadly in a nearly deserted parking garage, where all four men involved in the drug deal have a violent fight and end up dead. Peter just happens to be in a parked car nearby and witnesses this fatal conflict. The heroin that was part of this deal is in a duffel bag that is near the dead bodies.

Peter is no stranger to doing shady things to make money. And you know what that means in this story. Although “The Baker” tries to play coy about what Peter did after witnessing this deadly shootout, it’s very obvious. Peter is seen making an urgent phone call where he leaves a message for someone named Milky to call him back. Milky (played by Dax Ravina) is shown later in the movie.

Peter suddenly arrives at Delphi’s school, barges into one of her classes, and abruptly tells her that she has to leave with him to take a father/daughter trip. During their road trip, Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” is playing in the car. It’s a song that is heard again for a pivotal moment toward the end of the movie.

Peter shows up with Delphi at Pappi’s place of business, after Peter and Pappi have not seen or spoken to each other in years. This unannounced visit is the first time that Pappi and Delphi meet each other. Peter quickly tells Pappi that he recently started a limousine-driving business, but Peter got stuck with a bunch of run-down limos. However, Peter says his financial fortune has suddenly changed for the better, and it won’t be long before he will be the one being driven in limos.

Peter tells Pappi that he needs Pappi to look after Delphi while Peter sorts out some unnamed business matters. Not long after Peter drives away, Pappi gets a frantic phone call from Peter, but then a gunshot is heard in the background where Peter is, and the call is disconnected. Pappi then takes Delphi on a road trip in Pappi’s delivery truck to find out what happened to Peter. (What happened to Peter is exactly what you think happened to Peter.)

The rest of “The Baker” is just a mindless series of scenes where Pappi gets into shootouts and other fights with the goons who work for the drug lord who’s looking for his stolen heroin. The drug lord’s name in the movie is Merchant (played by Harvey Keitel), and his chief henchman/enforcer is Vic (played by Elias Koteas), who goes on a mission to find Pappi. The two main police detectives who investigate this murder spree are Petra Weintrager (played by Samantha Kaine) and Luca Rispoli (played by Paolo Mancini), who are as generic as generic can be.

The gimmick of a mute granddaughter accompanying her vengeful grandfather on his murder spree fails to be believable in “The Baker.” The movie has Pappi give a ridiculous order to Delphi to just put on some goggles so she won’t witness any murders. Of course, Delphi sees things that she’s not supposed to see and are traumatic for any human being.

“The Baker” heinously brushes off this child abuse as justified, because Pappi cannot be stopped. Don’t you know that an unhinged vigilante just doesn’t have time to find a babysitter? “The Baker” continues to spiral downward as it has some forced-looking “cutesy” scenes of Delphi trying to get her grouchy grandfather to loosen up a little, when she’s not dodging bullets and not trying to get killed in other ways.

“The Baker” has absolutely no creativity or wit in the action scenes either. All of the performances are mediocre, with longtime actors such as Perlman and Keitel (who have both been typecast as tough guys in their movie roles) just going through the same motions that they’ve done dozens of times before in other unremarkable action movies. “The Baker” can’t even be considered half-baked. It’s like raw sewage that leaves a stinking mess of idiotic filmmaking.

Falling Forward Films released “The Baker” in select U.S. cinemas on July 28, 2023.

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