Milo (Damian Lewis) is a professional hit man, or cleaner (if you’ve seen Leon) on the run from his boss after a bit of a misunderstanding in team management. Under the advice of his agent (Michael Gambon), he takes refuge in a sleepy rural Welsh town, anonymously posing as the new local baker. If this sounds, oh so serious, it’s far from it.

From the moment he arrives, the Welsh stereotypical backdrops fly in (quite literally) with an exploding sheep’s head smacking Milo on the head from a distance. This very much sets absurdometer for the remains of the film.

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We soon meet the village odd balls in the shape of pub landlord and co who like to dress up as the Knights of the Round Table in their spare time; a chipie owner who’s being domestically abused by his wife (in a comical way); two gay neighbours who like to sneak out at night and destroy each others’ gnome collection; a dyslexic youngster suspicious of Milo’s background as a hitman, and Rhiannon (Kate Ashfield), the local vet and potential love interest. Meanwhile, Bjorn (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a rival hitman employed to kill Milo throws a dirty spanner in the Baker’s works, tracking him down and making a menace of himself.

The legs of the film are built around a series of double entendres, comedy ironies, misnomers and false assumptions. When the locals assume Milo as the new baker, he just goes along with it, learns a few recipes, charms the local ladies, and manages to pick up the local vet. But when the village idiot, aptly named Eggs (Dyfan Dwyfor), decides to steal Milo’s gun, shoot one of the locals and spill the beans to Rhiannon about her new man’s blood thirsty history, things take an inevitable nose dive.

At little over 80 minutes, this is more of a comedy sketch than a feature film. There are some good laughs along the way, a few nice two-hand gags and an underlining whiff of League of Gentlemenesque absurdity throughout. This is essentially all that carries the film though, with its thin, sketchy plot relying heavily on little moments of comedy irony to pull it up by the bootstraps. Damon Lewis makes a valiant effort to purposely convey the most unlikely hitman ever, but Michael Gambon is wasted in a meaningless cameo role as the manager of the firm, and all other roles, with the exception of Kate Ashfield’s, who plays the token lover, are fairly two-dimensional caricatures.

This said, The Baker isn’t too bad if its absurdity you’re after, and if a bit overcooked, it’s not completely ruined.

Reviewed on: 29 Feb 2008
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Comedy thriller where a hit man, takes refuge from his boss by finding work as a baker in a quiet Welsh village.
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Director: Gareth Lewis

Writer: Gareth Lewis

Starring: Damian Lewis, Kate Ashfield, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Michael Gambon Dyfan Dwyfor

Year: 2007

Runtime: 82 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK


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