Bullet Train offers both fun and thrills from start to finish in an action film that brings an international cast along for the ride.
Do not get up immediately at the start of the credits. There is a mid-credit scene! This is the only scene during the end credits. One thing to appreciate about the credits is that the entire orchestra is there. It is not that common for the orchestra players to appear in the credits. If this is the new approach to end credits, it’s one that I certainly appreciate. I’m sure the orchestra players do as well.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. The source material is a Japanese book. A pair of executive producers, Yuma Terada and Ryosuke Saegusa, run an agency that works to bring Japanese storytelling to Hollywood. Either way you look at it, there’s bound to be controversy given the number of Americans in the movie compared with Asian or Asian-American talent in leading roles. However, the executive producers were on board in making this film an international story. The film still manages to keep the Japanese setting while bringing in an actor like Brad Pitt in a leading role. After Crazy Rich Asians made the money that it did, I’m surprised that they didn’t go in that direction with casting.
The gist of the film is that Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is an assassin who always had bad luck. He is at the point in his career where he’s basically taking a self-help approach in doing his job. You’d certainly try to change up whatever it is that isn’t working. I know that I would. If this means Ladybug chooses against carrying a gun on him, so be it. But of course, this approach only heightens the comedy in the film. Unfortunately for Ladybug, he just happens to be on the one train with a number of people with the same skillset. More on this in a moment.
You have seven different people riding the same train. They all have their own reasons but funny enough, they’re all connected. The nice thing about the film is that we learn more about them throughout the thrill-ride. Why are they on the train. What is their background? Some might be strangers to others but fate somehow brought them together. David Leitch’s film takes us on a journey. It’s worth it especially the laughs. It’s not quite The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent level of laughter but there’s still enough to enjoy the film.
Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) have their own reasons for being on the train and quite the background, too. Lemon can read people and figure out in an instant which Thomas the Tank Engine character they are. They are on the train because they have a job to do with making sure someone stays alive. This is not easy with the amount of people on the train that do not want this to happen.
The thing I like about The Prince (Joey King) is that we don’t know what we’re getting. It’s one of those cases where appearances can be deceiving. You think you’re talking to someone who is out of their league but she knows exactly what she’s doing. Like the others, she also has an agenda, too. Kimura,(Andrew Koji) is in a very different position. Fate brought him on the train because he wants revenge. As much as the focus is on Ladybug, it’s really the relationship between Kimura and The Elder (Hiroyuki Sanada) that forms the film’s core. Michael Shannon, Benito A Martínez Ocasio, and a scene-stealing snake are among those that round out the cast. You’ve heard of Snakes on a Plane? We’ve got ourselves a snake on the train!
The chemistry between Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock builds off of their appearance together in The Lost City. These are very different films but I would love to see the two taking part in an action comedy opposite each other. Maybe an Ocean’s sequel? Oh yeah, this film might be released last but it was shot before the adventure comedy. I won’t expand any further on Bullock’s role in this film other than to say that she play’s Brad’s handler.
Design wise, this is a film that benefits from the advances in virtual production technology. Rather than add in plates later, they’re able to film from inside the train cars on the Sony soundstage while the production walls show the Japanese scenery that they’re passing by at such a fast speed. It’s funny how two different cars on a soundstage can stand in for a twelve-car train. The design work is really impressive in this regard.
DIRECTOR: David Leitch
SCREENWRITER: Zak Olkewicz
CAST: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Benito A Martínez Ocasio, and Sandra Bullock
Sony will release Bullet Train in theaters on August 5, 2022. Grade: 4/5
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