On board for Bullet Train, you may be reminded of films such as Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, in which a group of eccentric criminals collides in chaotic missions, resulting in both violent mayhem and profound moments of dynamite dialogue. Bullet Train is not a new Guy Ritchie film, but rather the work of director David Leitch, whose action films Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, and Hobbs and Shaw has earned him a stellar reputation. This time, Brad Pitt is his leading man, and a fast-moving train is a battleground between rival assassins.
Based on Ktar Isaka’s 2010 novel, Bullet Train follows a hitman turned “snatch and grab guy” whose operation name is Ladybug (Brad Pitt)—a joke, given that he is “biblically unlucky.” He is taking a bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto with the intention of stealing a particular briefcase en route. On the phone, his unidentified handler (Sandra Bullock) assures him that this is a simple assignment. But Ladybug soon encounters a gang of murderers with cool code names such as The Prince, The Wolf, The Hornet, and the evil duo of Tangerine and Lemon (more on them in a bit).
While these adversaries are armed with firearms, knives, and poisonous venom, Ladybug has chosen not to carry a weapon but rather a collection of therapy soundbites about how every conflict represents an opportunity for change. Can he adhere to his mantras for self-improvement in the face of numerous murderers and survive the journey to Kyoto? Well, as the old saying goes, progress is not linear.
Bullet Train -Official Trailer
Bullet Train Explodes With Criminals Who Are Amusingly Eccentric
Coupled with his brief but memorable turn in The Lost City, Brad Pitt is having a phenomenal year for comedy action roles. There, he was an impossibly macho mercenary with all of Harrison Ford’s swagger. Here, he subverts our expectations of the electrifyingly cool Pitt persona honed in films such as Fight Club and Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, he portrayed a buffoon who would be more comfortable nagging a barista for almond milk than confronting a gang of murderers on a high-speed train. But this strangeness is exactly the point, making Pitt the goofy-smiling star of a thrill ride that isn’t afraid to be silly or violent.
Michael Shannon is as intimidating as you’d expect Michael Shannon to be. However, the reveals of their characters are among the journey’s most surprising moments. So, I’ll detour around spoilers.
Johnson and Tyree Henry, who portrays assassins Tangerine and Lemon, is heavily promoted. Johnson’s smooth performance and lack of anger distinguish him from the traditional English mobster. He shouts insults and threats with a crooked smirk. Henry argues in front of captives and relates every scenario to Thomas the Tank Engine. The Thomas and Friends references exist in Isaka’s story, however, they feel like Hollywood. Henry’s dedication to the character makes it unexpectedly funny, then annoying, then weirdly funny. Who knew a children’s sticker book could be so powerful?
Bullet Train Is Filled With Witticisms, Action, And Frenetic Flashbacks
This sometimes backfires. Zak Olkewicz’s rapid-fire discussion ranges from train etiquette to a disputed death count. Such dialogues sometimes generate quick flashbacks to prior minutes, hours, or years, providing the audience a crash lesson in backstories. This method is initially exciting as the plot accelerates into a web of conflicts, clues, and connections. These flashbacks get intrusive and dumb as the train nears its destination. The voyage of a water bottle to a key moment is meant to be funny, but it’s more of a bothersome hurdle, delaying our aim.
The Bullet Train slows down prior to its climax, presumably to give the audience time to process not Ladybug’s emotional trauma, but rather all the plot twists. There is a moment of silence during which the gravity of this final battle is intended to sink in. But without its nonstop stunts and hijinks, Bullet Train becomes a bit of a bore, leading up to a conclusion that is not only insane but also unabashedly stupid in its physical comedy. This movie doesn’t try to be smart, and I like how Michael Bay-style honest it is.
Bullet Train Has Summer’s Greatest Action
Apologies to the irritating Gray Man, the shaky Thor: Love and Thunder, and even the soaring Top Gun: Maverick. Let us not pretend that Spiderhead is an action film. David Leitch, a stunt coordinator-turned-director, made his directorial debut as an uncredited helmer in John Wick before delivering the orgasmic action epic Atomic Blonde and the off-the-wall violence of Deadpool 2. He is a master at discovering exciting new ways to throw punches—and every conceivable improvised weapon—that is cinematically stunning.
Ladybug must utilize whatever is available because Bullet Train’s protagonist won’t carry a gun. Cabinet doors, bottled water, and computers are used creatively. Furious whip pans and tilts lunge the camera, accelerating action and boosting motion sense. The lack of visceral sound effects keeps the violence amusing rather than terrible (see Nope!). This violent barrage is exhilarating, not nauseous or unpleasant.
In general, Bullet Train is a lot of fun. Certainly, the pacing is a bit clumsy, and a few characters are neglected amidst the storm of spectacle. Beetz deserves more than a one-dimensional role. Overall, Bullet Train is the most enjoyable action film I’ve seen this summer. Leitch packs his most recent film with star power, colorful killers, inventive stunts, witty banter, and fantastic twists. In conclusion, Bullet Train is a visually stunning and heart-pounding thrill ride.
On August 5, Bullet Train opens in theatres.