Bob Leeper’s Bullet Train review

Bullet Train feels like a Guy Ritchie movie set on a train ...

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to die (or this train is bound for gory)

The new film Bullet Train is the latest in a long, long line of train-themed mystery-thriller flicks going back to The Lady Vanishes (1938) and including Strangers on a Train (1951), Murder on the Orient Express (1974 and 2017), Snowpiercer (2013), Runaway Train (1985), and even Throw Momma from the Train (1987).  (There was even a Japanese “Bullet Train” movie back in 1975.)

There is something to be said for setting your ensemble cast of nefarious characters onboard a speeding vehicle that rarely stops and has hundreds of hiding places, and then having them go at one another. And while this Bullet Train may not be the greatest, it is arguably the fastest, funniest and goriest of the genre.

Directed by David Leitch (Deadpool 2) and based on the Japanese book “Maria Beetle” by Kotaro Isaka), Bullet Train feels like a Guy Ritchie movie set on a train. It has all the English wit, violence and storytelling gimmicks you would expect in a Ritchie film. I was honestly shocked to learn it was directed by Leitch.

Brad Pitt is a goofy, self-help addicted, killer-for-hire/bag-man, code-named Ladybug (to hopefully change his usual bad luck.) He’s sent onboard said Japanese train to retrieve a briefcase that, unbeknownst to him, is tied to a plot that involves Japanese crime-families and other assassins from around the globe. Chaotic fights, bloody back-stabbing and intricate plot twists ensue – plus a highly venomous snake.

Overall, Pitt does a great job playing the likeable, gun-hating hit-man. Some of the humor in the film is hilarious, but sometimes it feels forced and too cartoonish. It’s often hard to keep up with who’s who and what their motivations are, but in the end, often through flashbacks, everything miraculously ties together pretty nicely. (Be sure to stay for a mid-end-credit sequence that crosses the final “t”.)

In addition to Pitt, the movie also stars Joey King as a deceptively innocent young girl, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass) and Brian Tyree Henry (Phastos from Eternals) as the assassin team Tangerine & Lemon, Hiroyuki Sanada as a Japanese crime-boss, and Puerto Rican singer Bad Bunny as the Mexican killer, the Wolf. There are several fun cameos as well, so keep your eyes open for those.

From the start, the music in this film is awesome and I’m looking forward to grabbing the soundtrack. You’ll hear several Japanese versions of American classic rock songs and the tunes fit perfectly with the visuals, adding to the fun.

At over two-hours long, Bullet Train is a little lengthy, but it moves along quickly. By the time this train comes to its final stop, it’s been a very satisfying trip. Experience it on the big-screen if you can.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.