Movie Review: "Bullet Train"

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07 October, 2022

The end of the line is just the beginning: Bullet Train

Stunt coordinator turned director, David Leith, has been one of the pioneers of new-age action in Hollywood. He's become a specialist in high-grade acrobatic mayhem, having directed "Deadpool 2," "Atomic Blonde," and "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw." And the master does not disappoint in his latest outing, with "Bullet Train" providing the adrenaline-pumping, high-octane action we have come to expect, laced with colorful characters played by a star-studded cast and enough irreverent humour to keep you engaged from beginning to end.

Based on a novel of the same name, written by Kotaro Isaka, the writer and the screenwriter, Zak Olkewicz, deserve praise for their world-building, with each character adding mirth and quirkiness to the narrative.

The story takes place on a bullet train careening across Japan. The characters are a touch abstract as well, and knowingly comic-bookish. All are either paid killers or otherwise violent individuals connected with the world of crime, and the majority either have grudges against one of the other characters or are the object of resentment and are trying to escape the consequences of past actions. They tend to have tragic-sentimental backstories or be purely malevolent.

Brad Pitt was clearly in his element as "Ladybug", a down-on-his-luck assassin tasked with a seemingly straightforward "snatch and grab" assignment on a Japanese bullet train headed from Tokyo to Kyoto. Little does he know that the package he is assigned to steal contains deadly secrets that a mafia boss will kill everyone to get to. "Ladybug," with his trusty handler "Maria," must navigate deadly master assassins, yakuza gangsters, and other co-passengers with dark secrets to get his cargo to its intended destination.

Key among the cast is a British duo with a near-fraternal bond: Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry). Lemon is obsessed with – I kid you not – the children’s book series Thomas the Tank Engine, and claims that it provides a blueprint to read a person’s core traits. Thus, a Henry is essentially decent, but a Diesel is nefarious and slippery. Predictably, the cast of Bullet Train skews towards the diesel end of the spectrum.

The school girl on board, who goes by the name of Prince (Joey King), may be the innocent bystander she claims to be. She’s the only female character of note—it comes to something when a disposable plastic water bottle gets more of a backstory than the other women in the film.

The White Death (Michael Shannon), the villain whose face is not shown until the end of the story, boosts the suspense element. "Bullet Train" is a refreshingly fresh action-comedy produced by Hollywood after a long time and is a recommended theatre watch!

“The end of the line is just the beginning."

Ajin George Koshy

Westford University


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