Though predictable, director John Wells’ new film “Burnt” succeeds in being entertaining and fun to watch. Who would have thought that a movie about a chef could be so full of violence, yelling and adrenaline?
Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is without a doubt the centerpiece of the movie. Cooper plays a suave-but-sarcastic, womanizing-but-lovable badass with a past muddled by violence, drug use and women.
As Adam is basically one part Eddie Morra from “Limitless” and one part Phil from “The Hangover”, it’s not exactly a role that Cooper is unaccustomed to playing. It works, though. He continues to get these kinds of roles because he is excellent at playing them, and they are interminably fun to watch.
The supporting actors bring their own needed touch to the film. Tony (Daniel Brühl), Reece (Matthew Rhys) and Michel (Omar Sy) are Adam’s old buddies. All three characters complement his character and exist in an intriguing space that ranges from rivalry to love.
Helene (Sienna Miller) is also a powerful foil to Adam and serves as his primary love interest. The chemistry between the two mixes mutual passion and inspiration.
The movie opens to a scene of Adam opening an oyster — his millionth oyster, to be precise. A voiceover monologue explains that the million oysters are a form of penance for a never-explained disaster in Jones’ culinary career three years prior. Now, he’s back with a vengeance and has set his eyes on a third Michelin Star, one of the highest honors a chef can receive.
The writing and acting make this premise feel more impressive than it sounds on paper. Suddenly, getting a Michelin Star is like watching a James Bond film. It’s gripping.
As one might expect from a film about a chef, there is a lot of food present on screen, and it is glorious. Watching Adam cook is a guilty pleasure, and excellent cinematography makes the food preparation appear closer to the intensely artistic process than it undoubtedly is. It is food porn for the silver screen.
A ruthlessly particular Adam, being the hothead that he is, obviously has to have some sort of altercation over the course of the movie. In fact, it is more likely that he is yelling at someone than delivering a line in an inside voice. As a result, the movie is incredibly loud and tense.
It would be interesting to find out the budget on dishes for “Burnt.” So many plates, cups and bowls are broken in the 101-minute runtime that it is impossible to keep track after the first few crashes.
For all this violence, though, there are some nice moments of real emotion. Obviously, you can’t expect Adam to pour his heart out, but Cooper does portray an accurate representation of how Jones would have expressed emotion.
On Helene’s daughter Lily’s (Lexie Benbow-Hart) birthday, Adam bakes her a cake. In his usual fashion, he doesn’t sing to or congratulate her, but just sits and eats cake with her. Cooper does a great job in creating a true emotional connection and tenderness, despite the character’s inability to express those feelings conventionally.
The attempted humor in the movie isn’t great. By the end of the film, the number of cracks at Adam’s drug-muddled past is too high. We get it, Adam, you’re not afraid of needles. Thankfully, though, humor isn’t the intention of the movie, and the jokes included aren’t enough to really get in the way of the story.
There is also a disappointing time skip toward the end of the movie. To go into detail would spoil the plot, which is good enough to keep unspoiled, but it suffices to say that a stereotypical montage bridges a gap in the story that seems like it could have been handled in a more elegant way.
“Burnt” also feels a tad too short. But perhaps that’s because the market has recently been saturated with films such as “Bridge of Spies” and “The Martian,” both of which run over 140 minutes. Or perhaps it is because the movie is exciting, gorgeously shot and well acted, leaving the audiences wanting more.