Bullet Train is an action-packed story of convergence. Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is an assassin who is getting back into the game with a snatch-and-grab job. His objective is to board a high-speed train travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto and abscond with a brief case worth a lot of money to a great many peoples. Unbeknownst to Ladybug is that his fellow travelers include a network of miscreants, all with their own nefarious and devious objectives. As the train barrels toward its final stop, intentions become clear, alliances form, and violence breaks out.
What works in Bullet Train are the characters and the ride. While accelerating through the plot at breakneck speed, director David Leitch (John Wick, Deadpool 2) leverages a script from Zak Olkewicz that focus on giving his passengers a surprising amount of depth and comedic material. For all the buffoonery at play, the filmmakers work quite hard to establish motivations and narrative arcs which keeps Bullet Train engaging from opening to close. As connections reveal themselves, the mystery becomes richer and will keep audiences guessing on just how the whole affair will wrap up and who will come out alive. On top of that, everyone is legitimately funny in their own quirky way.
Bullet Train also benefits from the re-teaming of Leitch and his long-time collaborator and choreographer Jonathan Sela (Atomic Blonde, Hobbs & Shaw). The two use an immense amount of creativity and ingenuity as they construct elaborate fight sequences within various confined spaces. The interactions feel both brutal and artistic as the combatants avail themselves of every possible makeshift weapon at their disposal including snack food, seat-belts, luggage, and water bottles. The result is an escalation of memorable moments that will generate laughs and audible “ooohs.”
The tone of Bullet Train is not far afield from other films made by Leitch. This is to say that while the humor is plentiful, so is the violence. Given that the majority of the players are ruthless, amoral assassins, the body count is high and many of the murderous methods are not for the faint of heart. The other defining element of Bullet Train is its cartoonish nature. Many of the stunts border on superhuman and the amount of coincidence at play is purposely absurd. Audience members should prepare themselves for something pulpy as opposed to realistic.
Bullet Train is unabashed fun. It is violent, snappy, and off-the-wall, but all with great intention. It may not be for everyone given the strong violent contents, but for fans of the genre there’s a lot to enjoy.
You can find Bullet Train in theaters starting Friday, August 5th
Recommended if you Enjoyed: Pulp Fiction, John Wick, Deadpool 2, The Usual Suspects