Review: Actor Ron Perlman Takes Center Stage in The Baker, an Action Thriller That Leans on Its Cast

Ron Perlman is a national treasure, and few people know that better than filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who has placed Perlman in nearly all of his films, including the Hellboy movies, Nightmare Alley, and even the Oscar-winning Pinocchio.

Alas, the 73-year-old actor can’t sit around waiting for Del Toro to come calling; the man has to work. Which brings us to The Baker, the latest from director Jonathan Sobol (2013’s The Art of the Steal and 2018’s The Padre) in which Perlman plays a baker who lives a low-key existence, so low key it might be considered deliberately isolated. Into his life strolls his estranged son (Joel David Moore) and his mute granddaughter Delphi (newcomer Emma Ho). The son has stolen drugs from the wrong people, and he asks his father to take care of Delphi until he can straighten things out.

With no interest in children, including his own, the baker agrees to babysit for a time, but unbeknownst to him, the son has left the drugs in Delphi’s backpack, and it doesn’t take long for the dealers to track it down. What the dealers don’t know is that the baker is a natural-born killer, and even at his advanced age, he can take a group of men down with his bare hands, which leads to some truly explosive violence and brutal, bloody death throughout—Perlman’s comfort zone, for sure. The granddaughter is a bit of a kleptomaniac and a sneak, which annoys the baker at first, but before long, her skills come in handy.

The film quickly becomes one long chase sequence, but at about half speed. The always compelling Elias Koteas plays the dealer put in charge of finding the baker by the kingpin (Harvey Keitel), who, it turns out, has something of a history with the baker, back before he ever made a sourdough loaf.

Most of the fight sequences in The Baker are pretty solid, believable, not too flashy, and certainly brutal. Perlman can still scrap with the best of them, and I’ll admit, I loved seeing him in a lead role like this again. The film isn’t afraid to get dark and violent, but it also doesn’t shy away from the emotional truth of losing loved ones and pasts so awful they’re best not spoken of. Perlman wears this man’s physical and emotional pain in the way he carries himself and looks at his granddaughter, knowing he can only disappoint her the closer they become. The movie can’t escape its cliche-ridden plot, but the acting carries the day. it’s a close call, but I’d recommend seeking this one out.

The film is playing in theaters.

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Steve Prokopy
Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film ( and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.