“Five assassins aboard a swiftly-moving bullet train find out that their missions have something in common.” Director: David LeitchWriters: Zak Olkewicz, Kôtarô IsakaStaring: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian […]
“Five assassins aboard a swiftly-moving bullet train find out that their missions have something in common.”
Director: David Leitch Writers: Zak Olkewicz, Kôtarô Isaka Staring: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Sandra Bullock, Bad Bunny, Zazie Beetz Rated: R Release Date: August 5, 2022 IMDB
I watched Bullet Train (2022) back on February 17th. I am just writing about it now. I suppose that says something about my experience with the David Leith directed and Brad Pitt starring action romp. Bullet Train had all the promise in the world, but the action and story run on too long for its own good, and the violent sequences get more zany as the movie unfolds. The finished result is a viewing experience that is knotted as if I wrapped up it up for Christmas; legible, but messy.
Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is an assassin who wants out. He wants to retire. Unfortunately he gets called upon a mission as a late substitute, but his handler Maria (Sandra Bullock) promises it should be an easy job. All he needs to do is grab a suitcase and get off the train. Easy peasy.
We all know how that goes.
Turns out there are other mercenaries on this train, and all of them with the own agendas. Prince (Joey King) wants vengeance. Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) are on a protection mission where they fail at the “protecting” part. Wolf (Bad Bunny) is riding with Prince on the revenge train, all be it with a different destination, and The Hornet (Zazi Beetz) needs a resupply ASAP.
All of these bad guys in an enclosed space is going to lead to some thunder, and now is where we add the looming cloud of The White Death (Michael Shannon), who is the supposed worst and most paranoid man of them. The dark and stormy onlooker can only be rivaled by someone who is equally his opposite, so let’s introduce The Elder (Hiroyuki Sanada).
Lots, lots, lots of moving pieces.
Bullet Train had me all amped up to see it because it is directed by David Leitch, who is fucking remarkable as an action movie director. The John Wick franchise is the most consistent action IP going now in all of media and he is/was instrumental in started that. He also directed Atomic Blonde (2017) which had the Charlize Theron staircase masterpiece. Throw in the entertaining Deadpool 2 (2018) and overly-hated on Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) and you have yourself a pretty good start to your action movie career.
The action in Bullet Train is pretty non-stop, and that is for the best with a movie that is most definitely 20 minutes too long. The hand-to-hand sequences that Ladybug has with Wolf, Tangerine and The Hornet are really quite good. They are not as precise as Mr. Wick or Ms. Broughton, but Ladybug can still flutter its wings a bit.
Where the wings begin to fall off is in the movie’s final act. With so many characters, there are a lot of little storylines to wrap up. Things get a bit messy. I say this with ultimate love and affection for Hiroyuki Sanada (who is an all-time I recognize him! guy), but I did not need The Elder in this movie. Sure he connects to White Death and the the audience avatar character Kimura (Andrew Koji), but The Elder’s inclusion amped up the dramatics in the finale a notch too far.
Everyone is on a bullet train, which means there HAS to be a high-speed train sequence with race against time. The wheels have to come off the tracks and there needs t be a big explosion because how else do you end a movie with a cast like this without a big bang?
There is too much CGI. It doesn’t look great, and it doesn’t feel right. The first two-thirds of the movie features Ladybug fighting off foes while dealing with cramped aisle space and tiny bathroom stalls. We don’t need to blow up the scope to stick the landing. This is strictly me, Stanko, talking, but I would have had a slower Bullet Train ending. I would have had a deep sigh before some big mono-et-mono-et-mono unique Western standoff type situation. I am not screenplay writer, but I am a big movie watcher, and the ending to Bullet Train just felt off.
Love me some Brad Pitt. He is really good at what he does. He has the star power. He is “it”. The two-time Oscar winner has returned to the fold of blockbuster action fun-time movies over the last couple years. He had the cameo in Deadpool 2, showed up for a good time in The Lost City (2022), and then dove in head first with Bullet Train. Before 2018, the last “I am here to make a big-money” movie role was Ocean’s Thirteen in 2007? You can maybe argue World War Z in 2013?
In between now and then he had huge box office success like Inglorious Basterds (2009),Moneyball (2011), Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood (2019). I would argue that those movies were great movies, but they were not made for pure blow-stuff-up-and-be-charismatic purposes. Tarantino may yell at me for it, but I hold his projects in a higher esteem.
In terms of Pitt in Bullet Train, all I can say is that he is absolutely delightful. I love his crazy energy. Right from the get-go when he is walking on the platform, I was all in on his character. His “oh fuck me” mentality is great. He is annoyed, but he is still going to get the job done. It is not a performance that is going to win any awards, but it is one that will win people’s hearts.
Now there are a fuck ton of secondary characters, and we are just going to breeze through them now.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the best of the bunch when it comes to the side characters. His banters as Tangerine is outstanding; his friendship with Lemon is like a two-man stand-up routine. This was a movie that made me believe that he could be a good James Bond, as silly as that may sound.
Brian Tyree Henry lands himself a solid role in an action flick, and gets an academy award nomination for Causeway (2022). Tyree Henry. Lemon adds the most flavor to the movie when he is bantering with Prince.
Bad Bunny is in Bullet Train for the clicks. He has a ton of physical talent as he showed when he really aced the WWE stint he had. Fun character, sure. Enjoyed his backstory more than anything that was actually in the present timeline.
Joey King. I think I have stock in her. I love of people did not like The Princess (2022), but I had a damn good time watching that at home. She has the action chops. Not Charlize Theron level, but Netflix action is right up her alley.
Sandra Bullock does actually appear in this movie! Watching it through, I didn’t think we would meet Maria. This is the second time we see her with Brad Pitt with a big ass explosion.
Learned about Zazie Beets in The Harder They Fall (2021) and now I am happy whenever she shows up. She has dangerous eyes. Beets has the least amount of screen time of all the assassins, but she makes it count.
This is the shocker. I had no idea that Michael Shannon was in this movie. Then he suddenly appears on my screen as the Russian crime lord White Death? Something absolutely crazy, but Shannon is really good at pulling out the crazy.
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