A sweary Phil from The Hangover with a trusted notebook in hand, Bradley Cooper turns bad boy chef in John Wells’ foodie drama, Burnt. Also starring Sienna Miller and Inglorious Basterd’s Daniel Brühl, Cooper’s rejuvenated former junkie, Adam Jones, is on the chase for the Michelin stars he used to crave.
After ransacking old friend Tony’s (Brühl) hotel restaurant, the former pin-up-cook of Paris scours the multiple corners of London to hand-pick a team of chefs, including Miller’s single-mum, Helene. Competing against old foe Reece’s (Matthew Rhys) 3 star gaffe, and with his shady past still lingering over his head, Jones has to learn to trust himself and those working with him in order to get back to the top of the cooking food chain yet again.
Unlike Jon Favreau’s entertaining sexy food-porn romp Chef, B-Coops and co. have delivered the feature length version of Hell’s Kitchen. Prettier and with a few less swear words, the Silver Linings Playbook star channels pot-thrower Gordon Ramsey, giving a glimpse of what it’s like to work in a pressurised kitchen environment, yet, there’s nothing cool or glam about this – it looks, feels and, presumably tastes, like hard work.
Amongst the chopping boards and boiling pots, there’s a pretentious, oyster-ish stink that fills the smoky air. You get the feeling that this thinks and feels that it’s far cleverer – and much deeper – than it really is. This is Cooper, charismatic as ever, but particularly surface deep – running through London, getting what he wants, when he wants – with a whole lot of nonsense in-between.
Both in structure and plot, Burnt feels heavily overcooked; jumping to and fro between ex-flames, drug-dealers, awkward unrequited love stories, and tales of past lives that are never truly revealed. Going from the serious extremes of the kitchen environment to the farcical stereotypical gangster homey’s dumping a battered and bruised Jones by the restaurant dumpsters, its concentration is sporadic and its focus too loose to effectively join together the ever-widening dots.
Cooper’s always watchable, whilst Miller tries her best to offer depth to a film otherwise devoid of any, but otherwise Wells’ culinary spectacle – amongst the shattered plates and undercooked servings – is an unhealthy dollop of hard-to-swallow messiness.