Home Movie Reviews ‘Bullet Train’ – Review
‘Bullet Train’ – Review

‘Bullet Train’ – Review


Take your seat, fasten your seatbelt and prepare for a rush because Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt is ready to take you for a kick-ass action-comedy thrill ride with Bullet Train.

Trained killer Ladybug (Brad Pitt), who wants to give up the life of an assassin, but is pulled back in by his handler Maria Beetle (Sandra Bullock) to collect a briefcase on a bullet train heading from Tokyo to Kyoto. Once onboard, he and the other competing assassins onboard discover that their objectives are all connected.

Let it be said that stuntman turned director David Leitch is a force of nature when it comes to the action genre. With a list of stellar credits to his name, he’s a filmmaker who knows and understands the beats of the action genre succinctly and better yet is a proponent of what I like to call ‘action as narrative’, with the film’s action rhythms driving the force of the narrative. And that’s exactly what he gives us with Bullet Train. He takes a menagerie of deranged assassins, places them on a speeding bullet train and starts the clock! And it’s one hell of a riot.

Looking to rev things up with a solid mix of action-comedy, Leitch draws on his years of experience as a stuntman and principal at Eighty-Seven 11, the renowned action stunt-house that has revolutionized action cinema, when it comes to realising the experience of Bullet Train. This life as a stuntman gives him a unique eye for performance and the movement of this film, and Leitch’s narrative, doesn’t stand still. He has fun with the premise of packing a host of despicable bad guys into a small confined space, where there’s nowhere to escape and simply lets them have at it. He then turns the speed, volume and velocity up and this result is a crazy cocktail of action fun.

Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt is front and centre in Bullet Train as the film’s central character, the embittered, accident-prone SoCal assassin Ladybug, and Pitt has the time of his life with this very distinct character in this full-on movie. Pitt’s performance as Ladybug has a quality that I can best describe as ‘imagine if The Dude from The Big Lebowski decided he wanted to be an assassin’. Laid-back and looking for good vibes only, Pitt’s Ladybug is a character who is trying to make the most of his new zen-outlook on life. What should be a simple ‘snatch and grab’ turns into a desperate fight for survival as Ladybug tries to stay out of trouble, and well, alive, as he contends with a host of dangerous and deranged villains who are ready to take him out. And the complexity only builds for Pitt as the train moves down the line.

Adding to the fun of Pitt’s involvement is the meta-ness of his and director David Leitch’s partnership as once upon a time Leitch served as Pitt’s stunt double. It’s an intriguing fact that adds to the fun and appeal of Bullet Train and you feel the shorthand between Pitt and Leitch through the making of the film. Along with his zen persona, Pitt also jumps headfirst into the action, and he’s certainly put through the wringer in this one. Pitt also gets to flex his considerable comedic timing with Ladybug, especially concerning the character’s accident-prone, bad-luck nature, and he’s a hoot to watch because of it.

Providing a key level of support to Bullet Time are Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry as Tangerine and Lemon, a pair of fraternal assassins who have a job to take care of, but who in the process get mixed up with Ladybug before it all goes to hell. Taylor-Johnson brings a whipsmart cockney style as Tangerine, who’s snappish and energetic in a Mick Jagger kind of way, while Henry is the more astute of the pair and has a very ‘unique’ frame for reading people that is sure to get a few giggles out of the audience. They make a killer pair on screen and get their share of the action, and it’s a lot of fun watching them bounce off one another.

Bullet Train also sees some great performances courtesy of rising newcomers Joey King and Andrew Koji. As sociopathic schoolgirl The Prince, King has a glee and glare to her character and this calculating psycho is a tremendously dangerous adversary who has all the angles worked out. Then there’s Koji who made a solid impression on audiences thanks to his work in Warrior, and who takes on the role of distraught father Kimura, who is forced into a situation he can’t escape from. And a desperate man will do anything to keep his family safe. King and Koji add considerable edge to Bullet Train’s cast of characters, and their presence and part in the narrative will keep audiences on their toes.

As an action cinema experience, Bullet Train is a product of the Eighty-Seven 11 school. And it shows. From beginning to end, this film is wild in its gunplay, fight scenes and just general, uncontrolled chaos that is brought to the big screen. It’s simply a riotous bit of fun! The focus of Bullet Train is embedded in the action-comedy genre, and Leitch and his team take a lot of inspiration from the great Jackie Chan in their presentation of this movie. The action is cartoonish, with an almost ‘live-action anime’ style, and minute by minute something daring and new flashes before your eyes. There’s also a good level of distorted gore thrown onto the screen, and this heap of blood and guts adds to the comedy, and seriousness of the action.

From the start of the line to its final stop, Bullet Train is a massive rush and audiences looking for a zany cinema experience will be rewarded. This is a straight-up bit of fun, and it’s cool to see Brad Pitt play with new material and try something different. In short, buy a ticket and take this ride, because there’s so much to enjoy with this one.

Image: Sony Pictures