“Bullet Train” was released in Aug. 2022 and is based on the novel Maria Beetle by Kotaro Isaka. In it, we follow a former assassin named “Ladybug,” played by Brad Pitt, who has taken a break from work due to his extraordinary bad luck in past jobs. Armed with years of experience, and some wise words from his new therapist, his first mission back in the game is to retrieve a briefcase aboard a high-speed bullet train traveling across Japan. To complicate matters, he isn’t the only criminal with an agenda on board. There’s twin assassins “Tangerine” and “Lemon” (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry) protecting the briefcase and hired by an infamous yakuza boss known as the “White Death,” an innocent looking yet devilishly Machiavellian young woman called the “Prince” (Joey King), a man referred to as the “Father” (Andrew Koji) looking to avenge his son’s hospitalization, and many others aboard too.
The main draw of this film is the tight action sequences and fast paced fights. Director David Leitch had previously worked on “John Wick,” “Atomic Blonde” and “Deadpool 2,” while also producing “Nobody.” Here he is able to show off his action chops in the many close quarters, Guy Ritchie-esque fight scenes we get. They’re quick, make creative use of the tight space around the train, and know how to amp up the size and scale by the end. From Lemon and Ladybug having a knife fight aboard the train’s quiet car to the explosive and off the rails climax, there’s plenty for action fans to sink their teeth into.
The cast of characters truly does add some fantastic flair to this movie, and despite how little screen time some may get, each is given some truly memorable moments. The reluctant Ladybug who constantly laments his bad luck, Lemon and Tangerine’s frequent back and forths that smacks of “Pulp Fiction.” One of my favorite scenes is where we get first introduced to the “Wolf,” another assassin aboard the bullet train. What follows is a wild, three minute long scene showing who he is and why he’s there. It was a blast to watch with its own unique energy and soundtrack that helped even this minor character leave a mark. And the same can be said for most others aboard the bullet train. They all help bring the film to life and give some depth to the fantastic fight scenes.
The weakest part of the movie would have to be how complex the story becomes around the halfway mark. As more and more characters are introduced and their backstories come into play, you start to see how they all tie in with one another, ultimately leading back to the mysterious “White Death” himself. I found myself being taken out of the movie once or twice trying to remember and recall all the different pieces of exposition. It isn’t great to watch a movie and find yourself pausing towards the climax of the film thinking “Wait, why was he trying to kill him again? Oh right, cause 10 minutes ago he said…” It’s a touch exhausting.
In sum, would I recommend you watch “Bullet Train”? If you have an affinity for fast, intimate action sequences, a vibrant cast, and do not mind having to keep up with multiple plot threads, “Bullet Train” is a fantastic pick for you. It has just been released on streaming services, so don’t miss your chance to hop on before it leaves the station.
Benjamin Armstrong is a graduate student in the Secondary Education certification program. firstname.lastname@example.org