Action/Thriller | Columbia Pictures | 126m | Rated: R
Directed By: David Leitch
Starring: Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Zazie Beetz, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Shannon, Karen Fukuhara, Hiroyuki Sanada, Brian Tyree Henry, Bad Bunny, Andrew Koji
Synopsis: A routine trip aboard a bullet train for five assassins becomes anything but, when they all learn their newest missions, all have something in common.
When you watch a David Leitch film you can certainly feel the influences of Ritchie and Tarantino, but I do think Leitch has his own distinct techniques if you look for them. He can visually blend humor, action, style, and attitude into his films to create high-energy sequences, high-adrenaline violence, and frequent laughs. Which is exactly what he does once again with Bullet Train. Now I wouldn’t say Leitch recaptures the glory of John Wick, however this was still such an engaging film to escape into. It’s a neon-colored Murder on the Orient Express on mushrooms and it can easily be a delight for those who like insane action comedies.
Bullet Train is not without its flaws. The central mystery, while it does carry the runtime, has its share of plot holes, conveniences, and a certain pre-required suspension-of-disbelief. The narrative is able to connect the action sequences and bring the characters together. It’s also able to stitch in plenty of laughs. I would say that if you watch Bullet Train for the compelling mystery, you will be let down. With that said, looking for thought-provoking intrigue here is sort of setting yourself up for failure because that isn’t really the intention.
Admittedly Bullet Train is a movie that lasts twenty-minutes longer than needed and has a storyline you can easily pick apart critically. On the other hand, it’s also a film you can easily sit back and enjoy for the bizarre ride of audacious charisma that it is. The story may be lacking but the creativity in the action sequences, the building of these eccentric characters, and the weaving of these characters arcs all while on this confined train does show plenty of appealing creativity. You never really know what will happen next. You never know what some of the characters true motives are, and it creates a charming atmosphere with a modestly unpredictable undercurrent.
The cast in my opinion is the bright spot. Bullet Train knows what it wants to be. The self-awareness is relentless, the actors know this, and they lean into the characters perfectly. Brad Pitt has been in a wide range of films, but I always enjoy when he dabbles in the comedy and here, he swan dives into the humor to deliver endless laughs. From the dialogue delivery to his expressions, and physical acting, I think Pitt effectively carries this capable ensemble. Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson play brothers Tangerine and Lemon and they’re a fantastic comedic duo. Their timing and the smooth interplay between their characters is hilarious. Overall, everyone gets the point of these characters. Bullet Train is having fun, the actors are as well, so if you let it, you can take the ride with it.
Bullet Train is not short of action, mayhem, bloody violence, and most important, variety. This film isn’t simply filled with choreographed fight sequences between the laughs. Okay, well it actually is. Regardless, the scale of these confrontations is tailored perfectly to the story. Whether it be a fight involving a suitcase, or two men dishing out humor while secretly fighting over a single weapon in a quiet car on the train, there is a method to this movie’s madness. It’s over stylized without question but that’s all part of the atmosphere. Everything from the personalities, the action, to the humor is alluringly hyper realistic. And where it may have its flaws, the ambition and energy of this movie make it easily recommendable if you’ve been a fan of Leitch’s past films that are fueled by tightly crafted action and a pleasantly unrestrained sense-of-humor.
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2022 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.