Film review: Bullet Train

Five assassins, one train travelling at 200 miles per hour… let the carnage commence!

The premise of Bullet Train is simple… Ladybug (Brad Pitt), the worlds most unlucky assassin, attempts to accomplish a simple job for his mysterious employer (Sandra Bullock). The job, to recover a case and get off one stop later, is hindered when it transpires that there are four other assassins with the same mission. The interconnected stories of these five deadly strangers thrust together unravel as the train nears its final stop.

Bullet Train has been sourced from the pages of the novel of the same name by author Kotaro Isaka. Although dramatised for film it does hold the essence of the book well. There are some differences I have noticed but for the sake of the film I looked past them. The film follows a unique pattern that I have found in films from directors such as Guy Richie. In that there is a linear story following each character but we will see another character in the background not yet knowing who they are. It is very slickly done, the more you watch the more you notice how intertwined the stories really are.

The cast for this fairly unique film… is huge. With support for Brad Pitt coming from Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass) who is one half of the assassin twins, Tangerine (Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry). The final two are Yuichi Kimura (Andrew Koji) and The Prince (Joey King). King plays a very interesting role as a seemingly ‘innocent’ school girl, but this is really a cover for a dark and twisted mind. There are also some interesting and hilarious cameos which I’ll keep as a surprise!

 

The character’s interactions and interwoven stories, give depth to an otherwise fairly mundane plot. It’s hard when on the most part, we are in one location throughout the film…a train. Sandra Bullock was totally wasted, being reserved as just a voice at the end of the phone to Ladybug throughout the film. An actress of her calibre should get more than a 5 minute cameo. Her voice however, did lend itself well to the character, so I can see the reasoning behind her casting, I just wish she was utilised even more to her abilities.

Director David Leith, which such previous work as, Nobody and John Wick does well here. The fighting is expertly executed and choreographed even if at times it does get a bit far fetched. We get some very graphic fight scenes that I didn’t expect, mostly involving blades of some description. Violence is often added for the sake of it, without much thought for advancing the plot. The fight scenes do match well with the score, being mostly Japanese covers of western songs, with highlights such as ‘Stayin’ Alive’ and ‘Holding out for a Hero’. The slight comedic element to the music softens the blows somewhat and detracts from the violence making it just a fun fight to watch!

On the whole, the film does a good job of being a silly fun time. Brad Pitt gives a quirky comedic performance which elevates the film in a way only he can. There is a fair amount of exposition, but this is mediated with the humorous dialogue that fills the film. It doesn’t pack the guttural punch of John Wick or the comedic wit of films like Deadpool 2 (another one of Leith’s).

The idea of a murder mystery aboard a train is nothing new. But this ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ at two hundred miles per is enough to grab anyone’s interest. What it lacks in story it more than makes up for in its humour. Throw in the colour and vibrancy of Japanese culture and I would say it is an enjoyable way to spend two hours in a cinema.

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Tom, Bath Store

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