David Leitch’s latest film, Bullet Train, comes rolling into the station on Aug. 5, but is this a ride worth getting on?
When coming into Bullet Train, I didn’t know what to expect. While I kept seeing people hyping the trailers up with excitement, I wasn’t completely sold as this zany style of film isn’t one that always appeals to me. I kept seeing the trailers over and over again, and I kept thinking that while it looked to be a fun movie, Bullet Train wasn’t something that I was going to be in love with.
I am here to tell you that I absolutely adore Bullet Train and think it was an absolutely fantastic ride all the way throughout. I came into the film and was immediately endeared by the quirky style of the film that I wasn’t sure I would love. Then, while being distracted by the instantly likable style and cast, I found myself enthralled in a surprisingly complicated plot full of fantastic twists and turns.
Bullet Train is based on a book written by Kotaro Isaka, and stars Brad Pitt as a man who is codenamed Ladybug, an unlucky assassin who comes out of retirement in order to locate a briefcase on a bullet train. However, his mission gets complicated after Ladybug discovers that other people on the train also want the briefcase, causing their paths to overlap.
The passengers on the bullet train are fantastic, with an all-star cast who gives it their all in terms of their performance. Thanks to the fantastic acting, along with an outstanding story, every character becomes instantly likable, causing you to not know who to root for as their interests all conflict with each other over the mysterious briefcase.
Something that makes the story as outstanding as it is, is how everything comes together so beautifully by the film’s final act. There is no single frame in the story that doesn’t provide some purpose to the overall narrative. By the end, when everything that didn’t make sense finally does, it gives the audience a tremendous feeling of realization.
Unfortunately, the weakest spot of Bullet Train is the lead star, Brad Pitt himself, which, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying his character or acting is bad at all. Essentially, he gets easily outshined by the other characters in the film as they all provide something much more unique and endearing than Pitt’s Ladybug. Whenever the focus shifted back to his character, I was a bit disappointed as I was having a much more fun time following the rest of the cast. On the bright side, the focus is never on Ladybug for too long, so while he is undoubtedly the lead, the colorful cast of personalities that make up the rest of the train’s passengers feel just as crucial and vital to the film as he does.
One of the downsides to having a cast of characters this good though is that you can’t help but exit the movie and feel a sense of disappointment that more screentime wasn’t spread out through the peripheral characters. Some characters throughout the film are also gone way too soon, which, while disappointing, is a minor gripe and gets overshadowed by just how good the other characters that get more screen time are.
The standout characters of Bullet Train are, without a doubt, Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Lemon and Tangerine, respectively. The chemistry that these two actors have is terrific, with the two of them able to deliver some laugh-out-loud hilarious moments along with moments that are much more serious.
Other characters worth noting are Hiroyuki Sanada and Andrew Koji as a father and son with a ton of baggage, along with Joey King as The Prince, an assassin disguised as a cute young girl. Sanada and Koji provide heart-wrenching performances, while King is an absolute badass whose motives are unpredictable. The story with their characters seems completely random and as though it has nothing to do with the film’s main plot; however, once you realize just how their characters fit in with the rest of the movie, it is unbelievably satisfying. Speaking of which, satisfying is probably one of the best words to describe the character arcs and the overall story, as that is how it feels by the end.
Also, just as a brief aside, there are some cameos in this movie that are some of the most surprising and greatest cameos I have seen in a long time. People in my audience were laughing, and some were even cheering for the cameos, so if you can/want to, make sure to try to stay away from spoilers as much as possible as the shock of the cameos is part of the fun.
If you’re wanting to check Bullet Train out, I definitely recommend seeing it in theaters, the biggest screen you can get your hands on, as the shots of the bullet train from outside look stunning on the big screen. I saw the movie in IMAX, which made the bullet train feel even longer, giving a sense of actually being in the train, or at least being able to easily imagine myself in the train.
The only complaint I have about the movie’s visuals is that the final moments are actually pretty distracting with how obvious the greenscreen visuals are. Thankfully, the story has you so captured at this point that the distracting visuals didn’t distract me for long.
Bullet Train quickly establishes itself as a quirky and stylistic action movie, but thankfully is so much more than that. It may have been a two-hour movie, but like an actual bullet train, the pace at which the film travels is at lightning speed. Finally, the movie also has a fantastic story with a cast of characters that are all incredibly unique and exciting in their own right, making for a film that is an extremely fun joy ride from the beginning of the track all the way to its end.