Five assassins, a briefcase and a high-speed train. This is the setup of the latest summer blockbuster, Bullet train – an action comedy directed by David Leitch. This film stars Brad Pitt as Ladybug, an assassin tasked with collecting a briefcase from a bullet train traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto. Those familiar with Leitch’s work Deadpool 2 and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw know his style and this film does not disappoint. A high-octane rollercoaster of a movie, this is the summer’s must-see blockbuster as it’s a fun, kick-ass train ride.
Bullet train had me on hi. The concept of an action movie set on a train going 200 miles an hour sounded like the type of popcorn entertainment I’d like. Add in the fact that Leitch is known for his lavish, stylized action and you have a recipe for blockbuster success on your hands with a film that never quite hits the mark. Leitch once again collaborates with cinematographer Jonathan Sela to create a vivid, colorful action film with nuances that pop in every way The gray man wished to. As a result, this film looks polished and phenomenal from start to finish, even during its ridiculous final act.
This is Pitt’s fourth decade as leading man. A household name who has delivered amazing performances for years, Pitt gets a chance to show off his comedic chops in this hilarious role as Ladybug. He nails this part of an assassin cursed with bad luck. The film’s tone is consistently outrageous, and Pitt does everything he can to match that tone with one of his first roles since his Oscar win. He has fun with the role and doesn’t hold back, pulling off many of his own stunts as an action hero pushing 60.
While Pitt is the star of the show, this is a film defined by its ensemble cast. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is excellent in every film he’s in, and Brian Tyree Henry continues to impress with a series of high-profile roles in which he excels. These two portray Tangerine and Lemon, whose chemistry with each other is not what you would expect, but it works so well. Joey King is also excellent playing against type as an assassin who makes many scenes shine. In addition to all this, we have an excellent supporting cast with some unexpected appearances. Everyone is at the top of their game and gives this movie everything they have.
The script from Zak Olkewicz does an exceptional job of putting the characters in humorous but dangerous situations. You get the feeling that this movie would have worked well as a dark, gritty action thriller throughout most of the film. But Leitch commits to the comedy, never taking this story seriously and making a fun, entertaining banger. For some, the relentlessly excessive nature can be tiresome. To me, this is a fun silly movie that knows exactly what it’s trying to be and does a great job of it, committing to its gory, hard-R rating.
Bullet train tells a surprisingly unpredictable story. While Leitch’s previous films, Hobbs & Shaw, had a story around a bioweapon, the narrative was more of an excuse to have as many fun action sequences as possible. This film has a multi-layered narrative with many characters that can sometimes get in the way of the action. However, despite an over-the-top story, the film never gets boring. Leitch directs his action with clarity and impact, creating a beautifully nonsensical thrill ride that could have been a train wreck but entertains to the end of the line.
Like ComingSoon’s audit policy explains, a score of 8 corresponds to “Fantastic”. Although there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds in its goal and leaves a memorable impact.
Disclosure: The critic attended a press screening for ComingSoon’s Bullet train review.