Director: David Leitch
Cast: Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji and others
Where: In theatres near you
Rating: 3 stars
This film is an adaptation of a Japanese novel – ‘MariaBeetle’, authored by Kōtarō Isaka. ‘Bullet Train’ is a well-made, dark satirical action thriller that is fun to watch if you like big, mindless action films that feature all kinds of bodily destruction.
Stylized, self-aware, and with occasionally surreal action sequences, this latest film from stuntman-turned-director David Leitch who had earlier delivered ‘Atomic Blonde’ and ‘Deadpool 2’, does not take any creative detours. It feels like a culmination of Leitch’s past work.
The plot races along, like the eponymous train, at a frenetic pace but its breakneck narrative is offset by the director’s typical mash-up of styles that proves both uneven and occasionally too cute for its own good.
In a depressingly overfamiliar mission, Brad Pitt stars as Ladybug, an unlucky killer-for-hire who is determined to swap his life of killing for a new outlook on life. But his self-help mantras are sorely tested when he boards a bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, on the hunt for something valuable to his handler, Maria Beetle (Sandra Bullock).
Ladybug’s simple mission is complicated by the fact that the train is loaded with a collection of cartoon character assassins namely; The Wolf (Bad Bunny), a knife-wielding Mexican Cartel hitman seeking revenge, chatty British brothers Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry), who are escorting The Son (Logan Lerman) who is the son of White Death, the leader of the largest criminal assassin organisation, and The Prince (Joey King) an innocent-looking young lady who is trying to make life miserable for Yuichi (Andrew Koji) by putting his child in the hospital to urge the son of The Elder (Hiroyuki Sanada) into action.
As Ladybug meets and battles his enemies on the speeding train, he openly wonders what he’s gotten himself into. There are plenty of laughs as the circumstances get increasingly ridiculous in between several high-octane and incredibly-violent fight sequences.
With a tangled story and split-second flashbacks that delve into the assassins’ history, makes Zak Olkewicz’s screenplay appear laboured, and the never-ending third act makes it a tedious fare. But then the film does not rely on the writing or the story, it relies wholly on its cast, and thankfully it seems they are having a ball on this crazy train. Unfortunately, the ace actors in cameos who were intended to provide little rewards to the audience appear so briefly that they barely register.
On the performance front, the majority of the sequences feature Pitt and it’s wonderful to watch him on this level of action film again, effectively pulling off the fast and straightforward fight sequences. The other actors, including those in cameos, appear so briefly as to barely register.
Overall, ‘Bullet Train’ is digestible only if you accept it as slapstick popcorn fare.