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Film Review

Bullet Train

Directed by David Leitch
From: Columbia Pictures
Released: 08.05.22
Review by Julian Lytle | August 4, 2022 at 6:30 PM

Basically: A messy multi-star action movie that plays like a bad Snatch remake.

Well, here we go with Bullet Train, a new film from one of the John Wick directors, David Leitch. Bullet Train feels as if this is a Ben & Jerry’s ice pint of a movie with a mix of Kill Bill and Smokin’ Aces. Including characters with cute names in moving settings with tight spaces. Brad Pitt plays a man codenamed Ladybug who is contracted to steal a briefcase from two men on this train. These two brothers are named Lemon (Bryan Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and they’re tasked with keeping some big, tough, bad guy’s son safe. On the train there is also Andrew Koji as The Father and Hiroyuki Sanada as The Elder, along with many others, some you see in the commercials and others as surprises.

Photo by Scott Garfield – © 2022 CTMG

The movie takes time to intertwine all these characters in a plot that I’ll stop talking about here since spoiling isn’t the move. I might’ve found Bullet Train more fun and interesting in my youth but now it’s pretty dull and rote. It feels like a copy of a copy that wears its influences on its sleeve a bit too much. While it features so many known actors who seemingly have fun and attempt to do good work, it falls entirely flat for me. 

The color in Bullet Train is bright and everything is sharp. The editing is quick, reminding you of the “MTV/Music Video” aesthetic people used to toss around in old reviews. The costuming works, making each character distinct along with their hair and make-up. The fight scenes are well shot, even if some points don’t make any sense. 

With that said, it bothers me how the Japanese characters feel like set dressing and nameless goons. Especially when I discovered Bullet Train is based on a Japanese novel. It feels like all those times Hollywood adapts anime—something just gets lost in translation. 

Photo by Scott Garfield – © 2022 CTMG

While the scenes with the characters talking can be interesting, it does drag in some places. There are times when the action skews toward the fantastical, disrupting the more down-to-earth fights. While there is humor, what’s there is more subjective rather than universal as the movie thinks it is. 

Mostly, Bullet Train tries too hard to be cool and adds in surprise cameos to wow the audience. However, many things in the movie don’t make sense action-wise, which makes it hard to suspend disbelief (at least for me, it’s not something I could ever turn my mind off for). I just kept seeing things I dislike over and over. 

In the End: Bullet Train is a brainless action movie that the star-studded cast can’t save.

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