David Leitch’s Bullet Train is nothing more than a fun action movie, but it’s a fun action movie done incredibly well. Featuring Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, and several other star-studded cast members, Bullet Train is a thrill ride filled with violence, laughs, and a whole lot of silliness. When a wide-ranging group of unlucky assassins find themselves in modern-day Japan, things get a little bumpy once they all purchase a ticket for the same bullet train.
From start to finish, the film never loses its grip on providing audiences with the chaotic action and comedy that it promised in its trailers. Throughout the movie’s 126-minute length, there is always something to gasp or giggle at. Bullet Train consists of a fairly straightforward plot, with each character having their own distinct and clear motives. Some characters are much more interesting than others, but the film does a decent job at choosing which characters get the most screen time. This includes the character of Brad Pitt’s Ladybug, the endearing and wise-yet-goofy hero of the film.
The standout performances in Bullet Train definitely come from Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry, hitting it out of the ballpark with their comedic delivery and charm. Working as a brotherly duo, the dangerous pair provide audiences with the perfect blend of badass fighting sequences and amusing dialogue. Their chemistry is undeniably exciting to watch, and while Brad Pitt is technically the lead, they are oddly at the heart of the film more than any other character.
For Bad Bunny fans, one’s love for the film could definitely go either way. He has a slightly higher number of scenes than expected, but he’s also not featured as much as one would hope. It’s pleasing to see Bad Bunny on the big screen, though, with one of the most fleshed out backstories that the film has to offer. His character does him justice in conveying why millions love the music artist worldwide, and many will want to see Bad Bunny in future acting roles after watching his performance in Bullet Train. For a sense of how silly the film is, one can prepare for Thomas the Tank Engine to arguably have more impact and on-screen presence than both Bad Bunny and Logan Lerman combined.
Unfortunately, there is a heavy lack of feminine energy within this film. For starters, Joey King is not given the most likeable role. While she delivers a great performance, it feels like the movie is trying to intentionally work against her. For a large portion of Bullet Train, King is the only main female character, and the movie often resorts to several “wet blanket” tropes of making King’s character less comedic and enjoyable. She has some strong scenes with cast members like Brian Tyree Henry, but her role feels very familiar to other action movies in a not-so-good kind of way. Other actresses, such as Karen Fukuhara and Zazie Beetz, are severely underutilized and not given any time to make a lasting impression on audiences. There is also a well-known and iconic actress who makes an appearance toward the end of the film, but her cameo feels derailed by the film company’s decision to completely give her surprise appearance away in the official trailer.
Comic book elements are prevalent within this film, which makes sense for a movie directed by Deadpool 2’s David Leitch. One can particularly feel these elements with the stylized, Suicide Squad-esque way in which every character is introduced. There is also a ridiculous amount of celebrity cameos in the film, almost at a Multiverse of Madness type of level. If one had to compare Bullet Train to a combination of other movies, it would represent a mixture of John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Suicide Squad, and a large amount of Margot Robbie’s Birds of Prey. Its Birds of Prey similarities are where the film shines best, injecting sleek dialogue, heartwarming moments, and quirky humor into scenes pumped with explosions, stabbings, and bloodshed.
Overall, Bullet Train is simply a blast. The film is hilarious and strangely wholesome while simultaneously being the gory and action-packed summer flick that one would expect from David Leitch. The fighting sequences are innovative, especially for a story that takes place in just one setting, and the composition of music helps create an abundance of dynamic action scenes that never get old. Bullet Train is a fantastic film for anyone wanting a good laugh and the chance to decompress from the outside world.
Also, a bottle of water could easily become a fan favorite character from this film. Bullet Train’s ad placement for Fiji Water has to be the best use of an ad placement to ever grace cinema. Fiji Water is quite literally its own character, and it makes for a killer assassin. Take that as you will.
★ ★ ★ ★
Bullet Train releases in theaters this Friday, August 5.