Saturday 6 August 2022

Bullet Train (Movie Review)

As the summer movie season begins to wind down, one could be forgiven for thinking we've run out of worthwhile movies to go out and see on the big screen. But as astute moviegoers no doubt know, the back half of the season typically serves as fertile ground for smaller-scale genre films to shine, away from the shadow of the larger tentpoles. And Bullet Train definitely fits that category, the new action comedy by Deadpool 2 director, David Leitch. The question, however, is whether or not this particular train is worth catching in the first place.

The film stars Brad Pitt as Ladybug, an aging assassin whose latest job aboard the titular bullet train quickly goes awry. What was supposed to be a simple snatch and grab of a high-value briefcase descends further and further into chaos when it turns out that several other assassins, with varying ties to one another, were also there on conflicting assignments. Now he must not only struggle to piece together why they were all gathered there but also fight or outsmart the others long enough to make it off the train alive.

It doesn't take very long into Bullet Train to realize what type of movie it is, a stylish action comedy that seems derivative of other works. This is mainly because the film is not afraid to wear its influences on its sleeves, borrowing from the likes of Guy Ritchie and Edgar Wright with a visual style and nonlinear storytelling structure that immediately calls to mind movies like Snatch and Baby Driver. But what helps to set this one apart is its director's own background as a stunt coordinator.

Having worked on films like Atomic Blonde and John Wick, David Leitch continues to show his flair for stylized action and tightly-choreographed fight scenes. Most of it is thankfully easy to follow despite the high-octane nature of the narrative itself, which is a relief in a genre that is becoming increasingly reliant on fast cuts and shaky cameras. His latest film also makes the most of the confines of its single location setting, much like the similarly-set Snowpiercer, even though this one relies a bit more heavily on flashbacks to fill in the details of its back story. 

None of that would mean anything of course if the film didn't also give us characters worth caring about. And on that front the movie shines with one of the most stacked casts I have seen all year. Brad Pitt once again takes the place of the charismatic lead, but it is actually the duo of Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson that proved to be most endearing. They play a pair of ruthless fruit named assassins who provide most of the movie's gags and heart. There were also a number of surprise cameos sprinkled throughout the film, none of which I am going to spoil here. But it was nice seeing so many recognizable faces, even if quite a few of them felt criminally underutilized.

It is also worth noting that the film did take a considerable while before all the pieces of its overarching narrative fall into place. So less patient viewers might find all the earlier narrative hopping and character shifts a bit hard to follow. But at just over 2 hours in length, the whole thing never started to run out of steam or wear thin.

Bullet Train is another B-tier action flick that is sure to satisfy genre fans with its endless thrills and many twists and turns. The narrative does threaten to go off the rails atimes, as its overlapping subplots and implausible scenarios veer ever so close to teetering off the track. But everything is kept humming along thanks to a stellar ensemble and often clever script, as it builds to an explosive climax that is just as big as it is audacious.


  1. It looks like something to stream for two hours or so of entertainment and then probably forget pretty quickly.

    1. That's a perfectly fair assessment, and the film itself doesn't appear to aspire for more than that. 😁

  2. Like Pat, I'll just stream it at some point. Knowing it is slow in the beginning and the action shots great will keep me watching.

    1. Cool. Hope you enjoy it. I'll also be watching it again once it starts streaming.