Bullet Train Review


PLOT: A down-on-his-luck contempt (Brad Pitt) is sent to recover a mysterious briefcase on a Japanese Bullet Train from Tokyo to Morioka. Once aboard, he discovers the train is packed with trained killers, including a wisecracking pair names Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and a teenage psychopath (Joey King).

REVIEW: We’ve seen Brad Pitt a lot of ways. We’ve seen him as a heartthrob, we’ve seen him as a cop, we’ve seen him as Cliff Booth and even as Tyler Durden. But, one way we’ve rarely seen him – outside of maybe Mr & Mrs. Smithis as an action star, but that’s all going to change with Bullet Train. So how does Brad Pitt’s long-awaited crowning as an action hero go?

If you’re a fan of action movies, you’re probably familiar with the work of production company 87 North. Run by David Leitch, Chad Stahelski and Kelly McCormick, they’ve been thoroughly transforming Hollywood action movies since bursting onto the scene with John Wick. The key to their success is that they can make a guy like Bob Odenkirk in Nobody into a legit action icon through their expertise, so Brad Pitt has chosen the right crew to hook up with. With Leitch at the helm, Bullet Train is chockfull of action movie expertise. But, with Pitt, they had a dilemma. How do you introduce Brad Pitt as an action star but make it fresh? Frankly, they couldn’t have him do kung-fu or use guns. Keanu Reeves already does that in John Wick. They also couldn’t have him do stunts because Tom Cruise has that down cold. So, they transformed Pitt into an everyman action hero by throwing him in way over his head into a deadly situation and having him fight with props, like old-school Jackie Chan. This gives his character a different kind of energy that works like a charm and differentiates him from the rest of the cast.

Based on the Japanese novel Maria Beetle by Kōtarō Isaka, Brad Pitt plays an unlucky private investigator and not an assassin, as described in many of the other stories I’ve seen being run. It’s his avoidance of murder that gets him into trouble, as he’s been sent onto a Bullet Train in Tokyo to recover a briefcase and pointedly refuses to take the gun his handler has provided for him. He’s newly zen and doesn’t want trouble. Enter a whole cast of characters, including two Cockney assassins named Lemon and Tangerine, played by Aaron Taylor Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry, a vengeful father, played by Andrew Koji, another crazed killer played by Bad Bunny, and a young girl, played by Joey King, who’s deadlier, and more demented than them all.

Bullet Train is what it would be like if you took Knives Out, Murder on the Orient Express, John Wick and Rumble in the Bronx and threw them into a blender. It’s an utterly over-the-top action flick, but with very little in the way of tent-pole movies before October, it’s maybe our last great option for a blast of big-screen action we’ll see for a bit. It’s superior to the recent Gray Man Because it focuses on character, albeit with heavy doses of humour that might turn off more traditional action fans. If you can take it as a romp, it’s a total blast, with some fantastic cameos.

brad pitt bullet train

The whole cast is excellent, with King stealing scenes as the teenaged killer with a heart of stone, while Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry are getting a massive push with this – next to Pitt, they’re almost the protagonists. I can see why Johnson got Kraven off his work here, with him having the movie’s standout fight scene, a battle royale with Mr. Pitt. Tyree Henry brings a lot of heart to his Thomas the Tank Engine-obsessed killer, and both men play beautifully off Pitt.

All that said, this is Pitt’s show all the way. Riffing on his role in True Romance, mixed with Jackie Chan-style fight scenes, there’s a chance his character, Ladybug, could become iconic. He never takes himself too seriously – not for a moment – ​​and his action chops are on point. The rest of the cast is similarly good, but for the sake of spoilers, I’m going to stop describing them right here. Suffice to say, this is Hard-R, with tons of bloody action; although I’ll say this, if you have kids around 11 or 12 that love action, this would be fine for them. The Gray Man has a higher body count, but it’s all bloodless. The fact that fewer people die here, but more brutally, helps sell the stakes much more, in my opinion. The score by Dominic Lewis is top shelf, with lots of interesting song selections, with famous pop songs like Staying Alive and Hero by Bonnie Tyler showing up – in Japanese. While it’s evident that, thanks to the pandemic, this was all shot on a set and not in Japan, I was having a blast throughout, even if the finale is maybe a little too CGI-heavy. They could have pulled it back a tiny bit. I’m wavering a bit between a 7 and an 8, but hey, I’m a sucker for seeing Brad Pitt in action hero mode.

brad pitt bullet train


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.