Angry chef drama set in London, with Bradley Cooper in full-on “Gordon Ramsey mode”. Also starring Sienna Miller and Omar Sy with support from Emma Thompson, Uma Thurman and Alicia Vikander.
I like Bradley Cooper and I’ve followed his career with interest since first seeing him as the handler for Jennifer Garner’s secret agent in the ridiculously brilliant spy caper show, Alias. Since then, he’s gone on to become one of the hottest names in Hollywood and has achieved mainstream leading man status, just behind the likes of Clooney and Cruise. He was excellent in American Hustle and American Sniper, both heavyweight roles for any actor let alone one considered eye candy in many of his other films, most notably the Hangover series.
While 2014 was a great year for Mr Cooper with both Sniper and Guardians Of The Galaxy both massive hits, 2015 has been woeful. Dreary period drama Serena and the ludicrous three-way rom-com Aloha were dreadful sub-TV-movie fodder that would have gone “straight-to-video” back in the day.
So what of Burnt ? Is it a culinary delight or a recipe for disaster ?
Well, I’m afraid to say our man has completed a half-baked hat-trick because this is disappointing on almost every conceivable level.
Weirdly enough, the night before I saw Burnt I happened to catch a re-run of an old Gordon Ramsey episode from Hotel Hell. This was purely coincidental but it put a smile on my face as I sat down to enjoy the movie …
From the off, the plot is spoon-fed to the audience – and I did mean the pun.
Cooper plays celebrity chef, Adam Jones, an American who made his name in Paris and quickly earnt a reputation both as a genius gourmet and a hot-headed lunatic.
So far, so Gordon Ramsey, right ?
There’s some background, explaining how he spiraled out of control on drink, drugs and sex, and then disappeared, owing lots of people explanations, apologies and money.
Most assumed he was dead …
Two years on, he paid his penance – only to himself ! – by taking a job as an oyster-opener in a fish restaurant : standing at a counter for hours, just prising open the shells with a small knife. Once he got to a million, he noted it down in his little book and walked out, never to return again. He’d done his time (in his mind), got clean and straightened his life out .. now to win back his reputation as a chef : but this time he’d be sober.
Ta-da ! What a guy !
He heads off to London, hooks up with some old acquaintances and … blah blah blah .. sets up a restaurant .. blah .. goes for his third Michelin star .. blah .. drug dealers .. blah rivals .. blah .. love interest .. blah .. moody close-ups .. blah .. lots of glorious food, though all of it in minuscule proportions .. blah .. gets beaten up .. blah .. gay love interest .. blah .. old girlfriend .. blah .. wait, gay love interest ?
The reason he can get a job just like that is because the rich son of a hotelier just happens to be in love with him and decides to give him another chance.
I could go on but this is like filming-by-numbers.
Every single step of the way the plot is telegraphed in advance.
If you’re cynical and like ripping things apart, wait till this comes out on Netflix and watch it with an equally bitchy friend and you’ll probably enjoy it immensely.
Pay good money and hope to see a serious drama about the fine line between genius and mania and you’ll be disappointed.
There are so many clichés, it’s laughable, and I won’t go into any more detail because it’s just not worth it. You might consider some of the above as spoilers but if you do happen to see Burnt you won’t be too upset because you’ll know what’s gonna happen next regardless of whether you’ve read this review or not.
One thing I do want to mention is an early scene when Jones is rounding up his kitchen team. He’s on a motorbike roaring through the streets of London, en route to pick up an old sous chef who’s just got out of the clink for slicing his boss’ nose off with a fish knife.
Not only does the presumably dangerous Italian cook turn out to be a completely non-descript, level-headed member of his team later in the movie, but Jones is riding without a helmet ! Very fast ! Through the streets of London ! On a motorbike !
That’s about fifteen minutes in.
From then on I began to get annoyed …
The thousand yard stare was over-used throughout the film too, pretty much every time Jones didn’t get his way or paused to reflect on the lifetime of pain this world has inflicted on his delicate soul ..
There are a few positives : the cinematography of the food prep is so good that I had the sudden urge to go and buy lots of fresh fish afterwards.
Oh, and Emma Thompson is great as a carefree psychiatrist, camping it up in some big glasses and a weird, tent-like frock. Uma Thurman is unrecognisable as a lesbian food critic who slept with Jones. Another glib sexuality reference. It’s almost like these cookery types throw it around like ingredients in a frying pan.
Do yourself a favour and avoid this movie.
Go for a nice meal instead .. or failing that, just hit the chip shop.