Based on the book, Maria Beetle by Kotaro Isaka, Bullet Train takes an unlucky man for hire and puts him on a train where a big and deadly plot is unfolding. Directed by David Leitch and written by Zak Olkewicz, the film has an overstuffed but highly charismatic cast with Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Benito A Martínez Ocasio, and Sandra Bullock.
In Bullet Train, Brad Pitt is Ladybug, an unlucky snatch and grab for hire with a run of “bad luck” that makes him a pretty good assassin, even if her doesn’t mean to be one. Determined to do his job peacefully after one too many gigs gone off the rails, Ladybug is set to board a bullet train, pick up a suitcase, and get off at the first stop. But, as fate would have it, Ladybug’s latest mission puts him on a collision course with the world’s best and most dangerous assassins who have been brought to one place. All connected through conflicting missions, and only 60 seconds to exit the train at each stop, a dark comedy of error ensues as a plot bigger than any one objective begins to unfold.
Between The Lost City and Bullet Train, I’ll be the first one to jump on a hype train for any and all Brad Pitt does comedy with a little action film that he finds himself in next. And while Pritt is a great part of the film, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry as the Twins Tangerine and Lemon (respectively) steal the absolute show with their quick banter, perfect timing, and ability to feel absolutely chaotic in the way only family can. With their own little quirks and eccentricities that put them opposite ends of the spectrum, the Twins’ chaos and synchronicity are perfection.
While the film moves at a breakneck pace managing to get from point A to B with a whole lot of exposition cut into bite-sized supercuts of backstory contained to about a minute a piece, there aren’t many large action moments. Sure, this film has some great fighting moments that use the environment in a dynamic way, but it’s the film’s comedic moments pushed by character exchanges and dialogue that are the true focus of the film. Instead of focusing on moving the audience from one electric fight sequence to the next, Leitch uses action direction techniques to zip from one quick-witted exchange to the next with moments of action in between.
But in all the comedy, the violence is still allowed to take centerstage as one can only expect from Leitch. Specifically, each action moment that we see put on screen is crafted to deliver wonderful acts of violence with blood and gory bits in nearly every deadly sequence, much like Leitch’s work on Deadpool 2 but ramped up, particularly in the film’s final act.
If anything, Bullet Train feels like a kitchen sink movie with everything and everyone thrown in. This means that multiple characters feel wasted, primarily Andrew Koji’s Kimura. While this may come from a place of bias, I just want Hollywood to give Koji a good role that takes full advantage of the amazing physicality that we’ve seen from Warrior. Additionally, the overstuffed nature of the film works in some moments and doesn’t in others, specifically as the film transitions between acts.
Even with its faults though, Bullet Train is hilarious, bloody, and has a number of cameos that actually don’t detract from the story nor the fun you’re having with the film. Are there issues? Yes, a bit. Is it in the running for most fun I’ve had in a theater this year? Hell yeah. Erratic and chaotic in nearly every department, it’s a great watch thanks to actors that just get each other and an ending that sticks the landing.
Bullet Train is out nationwide August 5, 2022.
Even with its faults though, Bullet Train is hilarious, bloody, and has a number of cameos that actually don’t detract from the story nor the fun you’re having with the film. Erratic and chaotic in nearly every department, it’s a great watch thanks to actors that just get each other and an ending that sticks the landing.