The last thing I expected on a Sunday evening was to be completely enthralled by an action blockbuster on a Tokyo bullet train. But that’s exactly what happened when I watched Bullet Train on Netflix. I had been sleeping on this flick for months and decided to watch it the other day, as it’s moving away from Netflix to Hulu or Disney in a few weeks.
Right from the opening scenes, this movie glued me to my seat with non-stop action, twists, and turns. When the end credits finally rolled, I sat in a daze, wondering where the last two hours had gone. David Leitch has created a frantic, fast-paced thrill ride that delivers on all fronts – stunts, comedy, characters, and surprises.
Based on the book Maria Beetle, the movie’s premise centers around a group of assassins all ending up on the same bullet train from Tokyo with interconnected yet conflicting missions.
Combining that tight, confined setting with an eclectic group of eccentric killers played perfectly to Leitch’s strengths from films like Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2. It allowed for creative action sequences within tight quarters and many comedic moments as the different personalities interacted and revealed secrets.
From the get-go, I was immediately drawn into the film by Brad Pitt’s charming yet unintentionally hilarious performance as Ladybug, the hapless assassin at the center of it all. Despite obviously being a highly skilled killer, he conveyed Ladybug as someone just trying to get through his latest job without any complications so he could get on with his life.
Though desperately unlucky, Brad Pitt’s comedic timing and ability to find humor even in dire situations made Ladybug extremely endearing. It was a drastic change of pace from many of his more serious roles that showed his incredible range.
I also thoroughly enjoyed Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry as the bickering cockney duo Tangerine and Lemon. Their scenes together crackled with hilarious banter and brotherly insult-trading that had me constantly laughing out loud.
They found ways to continue their sibling-like squabbling even during frantic action sequences. Brian Tyree Henry, in particular, stole many scenes with his fantastic comedic delivery and expressive facial reactions. I’d love to see more films pairing these two talented performers together. I would love to watch a prequel about Lemon and Tangerine.
Joey King also impressed me in her role as the mysterious young assassin Prince. King imbued Prince with a lethal yet playful presence, coming across as dangerous yet childlike. She conveyed a great duality to the character and held her own alongside her more experienced co-stars.
While the film largely followed Pitt’s Ladybug as the central protagonist, I loved how it gave significant screen time and backstory to various characters.
From Andrew Koji’s conflicted Yuichi Kimura to Hiroyuki Sanada’s reserved Elder, each assassin got memorable introductions and conclusions to their arcs that added texture and depth. The intersecting storylines and twists kept me engaged as I tried piecing together how all their missions connected.
The Bullet Train centers around a powerful Japanese kingpin known only as The White Death. Most of the film builds suspense around the true identity of this mysterious crime lord. In the climactic finale, it’s finally revealed that Renowned actor Michael Shannon plays the White Death.
Furthermore, the star-studded cameos added another layer of surprise and fun. Seeing Channing Tatum appear so briefly but giving his all with an outrageous accent had me in stitches. Even Carver (Ryan Reynolds) managed to steal his scene. These surprise cameos made me appreciate Leitch’s ability to recruit big names for memorable bits.
Some other technical aspects that greatly elevated the viewer experience were the vibrant cinematography, pristine production design, and pulsing soundtrack. Everything from the neon-soaked nighttime cityscapes to the gleaming interiors of the high-speed Shinkansen train immersed me in a colorful vision of Japan. The energetic scores by Dominic Lewis and the soundtrack amplified the frantic action and complemented the quirky characters. It added up to create a truly enveloping sensory experience.
Leitch mastered the intricate choreography and breathless pacing required to pull off tightly packed stuntwork within the confined train setting. Though over-the-top at times, the intricate fights within tight corridors and narrow train cars were feats of creative action filmmaking. Even as unbelievable as some scenes became, Leitch’s slick direction kept everything sufficiently grounded in believable skills and physics whenever possible. I was engrossed throughout by the technical wizardry on display.
My only minor critique would be that the third-act climax started to feel a tad overlong and cartoonish compared to the tightly wound setup of the previous two acts. While still entertaining, it began to strain credulity even for the heightened style and lost some of the taut energy that propelled the film so well up until then. A slightly shorter runtime may have tightened things up.
However, overall, I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish by Bullet Train. Brad Pitt delivered one of his most enjoyable performances, headlining this fast-paced, laugh-out-loud action comedy.
Directors like Leitch, who can pack this much technical prowess, stylistic flair, and humor into a single film, should experiment more. I had a massive grin throughout and would gladly watch it again. At its heart, Bullet Train was simply good, dumb fun – and I mean that as a total compliment.
It is non-stop fun from start to finish, with jaw-dropping stuntwork, witty banter, and a superb ensemble. The combination of exhilarating action and gut-busting comedy had me grinning the whole way through like an excited kid.
Movie Rating: 3.5/5
Note: 3 is the median. Anything above 3 is a recommended watch.