“Burnt” has all the makings of a deliciously wonderful film: Bradley Cooper, gourmet food and Stephen Knight, the writer of many entertaining films such as “Locke” and “The Hundred Foot Journey.” But not even these three ingredients could spice up a bland story.
Adam Jones (Cooper) has a sordid past for which he is paying penance by shucking one million oysters…his own sentence. Upon his completion, he goes back to those he has wronged, only to show them he’s changed and wants nothing more than to regain his crown and earn his third and coveted Michelin Star.
Having gone straight—no booze, drugs, or women—Jones attempts to compete against his rival area chefs in London to do this. That’s it. You can guess what happens along the way and maybe even predict the end correctly.
The story is truly lacking any flavor at all. There is a glimmer of interest as Jones is in trouble with some drug thugs and there is also a minuscule spark between him and his lead chef, but this all fizzles out as quickly as a flambé.
There is no part of this story that is fully developed leaving you completely unsatiated. And the constant temper tantrums thrown by Jones and his competition are the only climactic expressions in the film.
Where the film actually shines is with its palatable preparations and culinary creations. The teamwork and precision that it takes to present a perfect meal at a high-end restaurant is stressful, yet when it succeeds, the outcome is simply mouth-watering.
As a home cook, I must note that using a metal utensil on a non-stick skillet in the film is completely distasteful. What’s next? Putting a cast iron skillet in the dishwasher?
Cooper has talent, but none is required to perform this role. He is exactly what he is in so many other films—a cocky, good-looking character with an engaging smile. In fact, there are a couple of scenes that he appears to be reading cue cards for his lines!
Sienna Miller appears to sleepwalk her way through this role as a head chef and struggling mother. Daniel Bruhl’s character is squashed, having little to no personality, but you can see him struggling as if a lid has been placed on him to keep him hushed.
Omar Sy is truly the most interesting character as a formerly disgruntled co-worker of Jones. He’s commanding and thoughtful, allowing you to care about him.
The director capitalizes on Cooper’s blue eyes and familiar smirk conveying that he knows he can get everything he wants, even if he’s rejected initially. But even Cooper’s blue eyes and confidence can’t save this film.
It lacks a substantive story, creating a hollow shell with no filling. With watered down performances and underdeveloped storylines, “Burnt” needs a bit more seasoning, more time to rise and better ingredients to give us the melt-in-your-mouth film.
1 1/2 stars as this motivated me to go home and cook.