A contract killer makes the switch from smoking bad guys to burning bread in The Baker, a hit and miss comedy starring Damian Lewis. His brother Gareth Lewis calls the shots (and mostly misses) from a script that he wrote. It's set in the Welsh countryside where Milo hides out after botching a job and takes the opportunity to reassess the things that really matter in life. Conversely, this is also where our first-time filmmaker completely loses the plot.
As seen in the BBC's re-jigged version of Much Ado About Nothing (2005), Damian Lewis has all the comic timing and devilish charm of a great romantic lead. He even comes away with some dignity after an eye-rolling introduction that sees him cure a gangster of constipation. But once he arrives in rural Wales and falls foul of an exploding sheep (as you do), brother Gareth turns the focus on the locals. Sadly they turn out to be a bunch of misanthropic bumpkins who figure that a hit-man could come in handy to solve their petty squabbles.
"A HASTILY COOKED SOUFFLE"
With a line-up of characters so thinly drawn and intensely annoying, it's a chore to spend time in their company let alone root for their cause. In fact, only the garden gnomes who end up decapitated in a neighbourly dispute inspire sympathy. Meanwhile Milo's budding romance with a fellow out-of-towner is pushed to the background and, even then, Lewis struggles to get a convincing rise out of Kate Ashfield (in spite of a madcap roll-around on the pastry bench). Similarly, every twist of the plot feels laboured and messy, resting entirely on far-fetched misunderstandings or obvious mix-ups to arrive at a jarringly mushy conclusion. Like a hastily cooked soufflé, it doesn't take long to realise that this whole concoction is mostly just hot air.
The Baker is out in the UK on 29th February 2008.