Assassin Ladybug finds himself on a bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto in order to grab a briefcase of money, but the task reveals itself not so simple as Ladybug discovers he’s not the only assassin on the train looking for the briefcase.
Bullet Train is everything I’ve wanted from an original action movie for a long time — bold, unpredictable, brutal, and irreverent. David Leitch colors the titular train with a lively style and makes the action unhinged and genuinely thrilling. Brad Pitt is no less an action badass than in the days of Fight Club, Troy and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. He gives the character a lot of humor in that he’s an assassin trying to find inner peace and avoid violence — guess how well that works out for him. But it’s hard to call a single character weak or overshadowed by Pitt. Joey King delivers her best ever turn as a deceitful young assassin, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson gives the film some excellent quips. His screen time with Brian Tyree Henry, who’s the film’s highlight, is the most heartfelt aspect of a film in which hitmen are all trying to kill each other. Henry’s talent radiates a special hysterical charm and will make you laugh and smile the most out of all the characters, not to mention he’s one of the most exciting actors these days. Even Bad Bunny, in his acting debut, does a solid job, and Zazie Beetz kills it in a minor role, and in my opinion the most underutilized performer of the film, considering she’s one of the best actresses in the film’s cast. Not to mention a lot of familiar faces that I was surprised were even in the movie, so stay away from the cast list before you see this one.
Bullet Train‘s script feels reminiscent of Guy Ritchie’s most uncompromising films, like Snatch, RocknRolla and The Gentlemen, in which you have to choose your alliances among a cast of criminal characters and anyone could bite the dust. Not to mention the script never takes itself seriously for a second, incorporating flashbacks, a vibrant soundtrack, and unexpected laugh-out-loud humor. The editing is where the film both shines and sometimes falters, as there are a few moments of unnecessarily aggressive cuts during scenes where there’s either action that could’ve used more wide shots, or explanations for events you’ve already seen play out. There’s also an exposition monologue at the end that’s easily the low point of the film and some character placements that don’t flow as smoothly in the third act or have no reason to be there. But in the end, only a filmmaker as bold as Leitch could get away with making something so much fresher than any other $100 million action movie you’ll see on the big screen today that’s not a sequel. Bullet Train has so much going twistiness, vulgarity and blood going for it, yet it’s the cheeky wit, exuberant performances, and relentless style that makes this ride such a welcome one.