Film Review – Bullet Train (2022)

Based on a novel by Kōtarō Isaka released in 2010 , reprinted in 2021 in English by Penguin Books. The film stars Brad Pitt as a Assassin who thinks he’s plagued with bad luck, his luck is about to get worse as he’s not alone!

In this slick action comedy he has the nickname of Ladybug given to him by his fixer Maria (Sandra Bullock). He’s determined to do his job peacefully and professionally after one too many gigs gone off the rails. Fate, however, may have other plans, as Ladybug’s latest mission puts him on a collision course with assassins from around the world. All with connected, yet conflicting, objectives and all on the world’s fastest train. Can he do that job professionally and figure out how to get off with minimal affect.

You can look at Bullet Train in two ways. Put your serious hat on and probably destroy this film critically then you’ll ask yourself, why am I watching this? The choice is, “My week has been one big pile of cr*p and I need some of escapism for a couple of hours before I return to the daily grind”…I am with the latter.

The usual suspects off course have got their claws out and ripping this film to shreds . This is a film more about style than substance. When films take this route the story is sometimes thrown out the window, Bullet Train does keep that consistency. The screening I was in, majority of the patrons where aged 65 or older. Soon as the first swear word was said on the big screen there was a mass walkout by end of the film average age was under 50.

Bullet Train won’t win any awards, it’s 2 hours of absurd, brutal thrills, blood and even guts. Sliced masterfully by A Katana sword, punctuated with humour and some well placed cameos. Each of the characters Ladybug confronts are all looking for the same thing, a briefcase with a train sticker on it. No clue whats actually in that case, they do also have a previous connection with him too, sometimes he realises after they have given him a beatdown or kicking.

Brad Pitt does carry the film well but it’s Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry aka Tangerine & Lemon who are probably the bigger standouts. Foul mouthed and one obsessed with Thomas The Tank Engine. Whatever you do, don’t be a ‘Diesel’ if you want to live. Joey King is The Princess who looks like that ‘innocent’ young lady who couldn’t hurt a fly, think again. Then there’s Wolf played by Bad Bunny who has tried everything from his music to WWE and now acting. Unfortunetely which of these arenas he’s worked in, not sure which one is his wekest or best . So how can all these assassins be on the fatest train in the world in Japan? All revealed at the end of the line in Kyoto.

If you know David Leitch and the film’s he has worked on John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, Hobbs & Shaw. You will be aware on what to expect with this one. All escapism at the highest order bot not always critically approved. Bullet Train is not without it’s flaws and some of those flaws could have derailed everything. The tone at times feels like if Guy Ritchie ala Lock, Stock, Two Smoking Barrell’s or even Snatch (especially Tangerine and Lemon). However that is not a negative criticism.

Bullet Train won’t win anything on originality nor is it a film which you’ll pay much attention to the actual plot as you’ll be lost in chaos. If you enjoy (Japanese) pop cultural references mixed with a Yakuza back story. Amongst the unexpected twists this film will punch your ticket, if not get off before it punches you back.

★★★★

Action, Comedy, Thriller | USA, 2022 | 15 | Cinema | 3rd August 2022 (UK) | Sony Pictures Releasing | Dir. David Leitch | Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Tyree-Henry, Andrew Koji, Sandra Bullock

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