Bullets, Bombs, bad guys and Brad Pitt on a high-speed Train, travelling at 200mph. What could go wrong?
It’s the middle of summer, the sun is shining in London and the weather is sweet. That means one thing – it’s blockbuster movie season. So rightly so, we were all looking for that big popcorn movie that will give us that feeling. That responsibility fell to Director David Leitch and Brad Pitt to deliver us something special. Bullet Train was even one of our ‘Most Wanted Movies for August. The hype from the trailer was real, so did they deliver?
Unfortunately, the short answer is ‘No’. With the level of anticipation, I had for this film, I went in expecting something sharp and witty from the team behind Deadpool two. What we have received is a film with dodgy accents, poor writing, and some convoluted questionable plot choices. The film at times felt like a weird cross over between a Tarantino ‘Kill Bill’ and Guy Ritchie’s ‘Snatch’ (or any of his heist movies) with a dash of something silly like ‘Snakes on a Plane’ (there is actually a snake on the train in this movie). Bottom line I was disappointed.
But wait, there’s more. In what might sound like a complete contradiction, I actually enjoyed the movie. Early on, I realised this wasn’t going be the film I was hoping for, my expectations went down, and I actually started to have a good time with the silliness on screen. Six strangers find themselves on the Bullet Train with their own objectives, with no apparent connections except all wanting the same mysterious silver case. Slowly but surely their connections to each other are revealed and they end up on a collision course, cumulating in a hail of swords, bullets, and blood as they make various attempts to kill each other.
Brad Pitt is ‘ladybug’, a private operative who believes he is cursed with bad luck as people keep dying when he is on his jobs. He comes back to work following a break and his handler (played by Sandra Bullock) gives him a simple job to do-grab a briefcase from the train and bring it back. Obviously, this turns out to be anything but simple. Despite being the lead, we learn very little about Lady Bug and he ends up having the least investment in proceedings. At times, seeming just like a passenger along for the ride.
What are August’s other ‘Most Wanted Movies’? Find out here
The other characters are given stronger backgrounds and motivations, shown mostly through quick cut flashbacks. Most of what we hear from ladybug are the regular uninteresting insights he recites from his past therapy sessions. Regardless of the films short comings, Brad Pitt is still ‘Brad Pitt’ and it’s always fun to see him mixing it up on screen like this.
The other stand out characters were Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Lemon and Tangerine, ‘The Twins’. Two paid killers who grew up as brothers and are fiercely loyal to each other. As characters they were actually an entertaining pair but again, they were let down by the lines they were asked to deliver as well as the British accent from Brian Tyree Henry being a constant distraction. It’s always easier for British actors to do American accents than the other way round so maybe their background of the brothers should have been flipped.
Bullet Train Official Trailer here
The film also features other assassins like Puerto Rican rapper and singer Bad Bunny as ‘Wolf’, Andre Koji (Warrior) and Hiroyuki Sanda as Kimura and Elder, a son and father looking for revenge. Joey King appears as ‘Prince’, a young ‘innocent’ girl with her own hidden motivations. Zazie Beetz stars as the poisonous ‘Hornet’ and Michael Shannon plays big bad Russian boss ‘The White Death’. David Leitch also reached out to a few friends for one or two surprise cameos. When these characters get in the mix, all hell breaks loose on the train.
Despite the films issues I was never bored; in fact, I’d go as far as to say I was entertained. The action is hard hitting and occasionally very violent, but these scenes are mostly intercut with comical lines or jokes. There are some very cool set pieces and some of the fight scenes are highly creative for confined space combat. For example, Brian Tyree Henry and Brad Pitt fighting at their seats while trying not to disturb the other passengers. Unfortunately, most of the best fights have been shown in the trailers or illuded to so their impact wasn’t as strong.
Bullet Train was a disappointment, it’s not the smart, witty action thriller I was hoping for. Some of its comedic moments hit the mark (50/50) and the action we are given is hard hitting and visceral. At times it felt like an episode of scooby doo, with the characters running round in circles, chasing each other up and down the Train carriage.
But I would still definitely recommend you watch it. It’s a fun action-packed popcorn movie which will keep you engaged over its 2hour run time. If you were looking forward to this, just adjust your expectations before you go in and maybe like me, you’ll get past the initial disappointment and manage to be as entertained in there as I was.