Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is an unlucky assassin determined to do his job peacefully after one too many gigs gone off the rails. Fate, however, may have other plans, as Ladybug’s latest mission puts him on a collision course with lethal adversaries from around the globe-all with connected, yet conflicting, objectives-on the world’s fastest train. The end of the line is just the beginning in this non-stop thrill-ride through modern-day Japan.
When five deadly assassins meet in a small place, there’s likely nothing good that can result from it. However, being a fly on the wall to witness all the nonstop mayhem is nothing short of solid gold for entertainment enthusiasts. That’s what director David Leitch’s (John Wick, Deadpool 2) latest film Bullet Train wanted to accomplish. On the surface, it feels like a great premise, and must be since this is adapted from the Japanese novel “Maria Bettle” by Kôtarô Isaka, which was first published in 2010. The film has a star-studded cast, funny dialogue, and a plot that won’t reveal itself until the conclusion. The only question left to ask is does it all work well together for a complete narrative?
That would all depend on your expectations. This film delivers on exactly what it promises you in the marketing. Which is a wild rollercoaster of randomness mixed with occasions of order. If you’ve wanted to see a vast array of characters that would appear to be from every corner of the earth all bouncing off of each other, you won’t be disappointed in the slightest. The cast ranges from Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Sandra Bullock, Hiroyuki Sanada, and much more. While it’s an entertaining bunch to get to know, it’s hard to imagine at least half of them existing in the real world. However, that may be the point in the train ride in modern-day Japan. I did ask myself would these people really talk like this given the situation in actual reality, and I don’t presume so but it’s still a bit of fun.
Coming off the heels of John Wick it’s known that the director is fully aware of how to choreograph a great action fight scene, and he does not hold back any punches here. What’s fascinating is even when an actor has no real martial arts or fight training in real life the way the character is written and the scenes are crafted together make up all the difference. Ninety-five percent of this film takes place on a narrow train/subway so there’s not much room to navigate around with large weapons or summersault flips off the wall. But the director has each character put their environment to full use to overcome whatever situation they may come in contact with. It’s a brilliant way to see the characters use split-second decision-making skills to survive and not perish in this battle royal on tracks. This is also an extremely bloody violent movie, which isn’t a knock but a blessing.
You do care for some characters more than others, which is fine but a balance would’ve been appreciated for better enjoyment overall.. This film is brutally too long by far, and the pacing is not the best at times when the story takes a detour to try to deliver backstory for certain individuals. It can sometimes be a distraction ruining the flow of a given moment, but this doesn’t happen too often. However, when it does it feels like a pinched nerve, and nobody likes that feeling. After a while, that pain subsides, and you’re back fully engaged trying to figure out how it will all end.
This film is also very self-aware. It knows how over the top and ridiculous it is and is screaming at the top of the mountain about how unrealistic some of the encounters develop and end, but again that may be the point, because a character or two do mention this in a practical way that makes sense in reality. At one point as I was asking myself in my head does all of this even make sense and is it necessary, a character on screen was posing the same exact question to the antagonist. Whether or not you’re going to accept their answer is a flip of the coin.
I will say when it all came to an end, I found myself entertained but full. I had a decent meal but had too many unnecessary desserts that made me feel a bit bloated. Just because something has a bunch of fireworks and sparkles for a distraction can still disguise a product from being what it could’ve. It’s messy at times, but not for a long duration. I just wish some of the fat could’ve been cut off before this dish was delivered, because while it was fun, I doubt it will stand the test of time, and be a blockbuster hit that’s memorable.