Review of 'Bullet Train'

bullet_train.jpeg A former, reformed, assassin codenamed “Ladybug” (Brad Pitt) is tasked with collecting a briefcase on a bullet train travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto. On board the train hit-men brothers Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) have been hired by White Death (Michael Shannon), head of the world's largest crime syndicate, to deliver his son, freed from a kidnapping, and the briefcase containing the would-be ransom. Also onboard the train is the innocence looking The Prince (Joey King) who forces another reluctant assassin Yuichi Kimura by having his son held hostage in hospital having previously pushed him off of a building. They rig the briefcase with explosives to kill White Death but it is taken by Ladybug after dispatching The Wolf (Bad Bunny), another assassin who is seeking revenge for the mass poisoning of his wedding. Realizing the briefcase is stollen and finding that the son they had been guarding is dead by poisoning Tangerine and Lemon go in search of Ladybug…and so it goes on.

This is a slick and very entertaining, if overly violent, film featuring a laid back Bard Pitt as a wise-cracking assassin just trying to do one simple job but thwarted at every turn with assassins aplenty out to get him. To be fair, everyone here is just as wise-cracking and all appear to be assassins. It is unbelievable the Japanese police let this happen on a public train. To be fair, the public are only on the train for a short time before it is given over completely to the carnage inflicted by the killers which you need a scorecard to keep track of. It does seem to drag on quite a bit and get quite a bit confusing with new characters introduced all the time along with a number of flashbacks that help to explain some of the events that unfold. You really do need to be paying attention.

Having just been in Japan on holiday I found many of the local references laughable (“that is NOT Kyoto station”, for example) but it is easy to set that aside and just enjoy the delightful mayhem and witty dialogue. The effects and action sequences are for the most part believable save, perhaps, for the finale which is a trifle fake looking in my book. It is very obvious that this film is directed by David Leitch of Deadpool 2 fame with the same combination of brutal action and fast sparkling humorous dialogue.

Brad Pitt plays true to previous roles as the smiling, quipping Smart Alec but the scenes are stollen by the tremendous supporting cast including Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry as Tangerine and Lemon who play wonderfully off each other and really endear them to the audience which makes their ultimate fate all the more tragic. Other than Ladybug, it is these two we really start to care for with the rest there simply for their lethal skillset.

An amusing, high speed, fast (brutal) action and fast dialogue film that will keep audiences entertained that, if anything, is a bit over-long.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2024-06-02

Directed by: David Leitch

Studio: 87North

Year: 2022

Length: 127 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films by David Leitch: