Brad Pitt and David Leitch have teamed up for a daft, chaotic, and fun action flick.
David Leitch has been attached to some of the most entertaining action movies of the past decade. Be it John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw, or Deadpool 2, Leitch knows how to make action fun but still thoroughly entertaining, which is why the Brad Pitt-led Bullet Train instantly became one of my most anticipated films of the entire year. Revolving around a premise where five highly skilled and talented assassins find themselves locked in a game of wit and combat with one another all thanks to an entangling plotline that goes so much deeper than you could imagine after the first few minutes, between this intriguing narrative and the action scenes that many described as John Wick on a train, there was a lot of hype going into this movie - but does it stand up that level of anticipation?
I recently saw Bullet Train in cinemas and while I can confirm it was a lot of fun, it wasn't quite the home run I was hoping for. And this is for a few different reasons. First of all, this film has a lot more talking than you would expect, and while it does often allow the talented cast to shine, some of the chatting was hard to see as less than pointless filler. The first 20 or so minutes go incredibly slowly as the narrative takes baby steps to introduce and set the core parameters for what makes each character unique. We learn that Brad Pitt's Ladybug is known as such for his unluckiness and get a brief taste of this in action, and then a similar situation is presented for Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Tangerine, Brian Tyree Henry's Lemon, Joey King's Prince and so forth. You always get a sense that this isn't the full extent of each character, but it does give a good idea of who is who.
While the cast does bounce off one another and the setting of the train itself is a pretty interesting one with plenty of variety, there's no denying that this set-up process felt a bit too stretched out, as by the time any meaningful action started happening, I was already starting to doze off a bit. But fortunately, once the action does start, it never really stops and the remaining 90+ minutes go by like a flash. The choreography in the action sequences is top notch, perhaps not quite as excellent as say Atomic Blonde or John Wick, but still very good all the same. Usually revolving around Pitt's leading character, we get to see the Hollywood star facing off against each assassin, and it's not too long until we start to see that the distinction between luck and unluckiness is a matter of perspective.
This is an ad:
Bullet Train also does a fantastic job of keeping pretty much every moment of the film light and humorous. Every character has that Deadpool-type of wit and sarcasm, even if each individual conveys that in their own way. The rapport between Ladybug and Tangerine ends up being one of the highlights of the entire movie, even if the ongoing Thomas the Tank Engine gag ends up being one of the standout parts as well.
So while the action and humour is pretty good all the way through Bullet Train, the movie really starts to take steps away from reality pretty quickly. Not that the plot was particularly serious in the first place, but by the end of the film, you do start to wonder how you got there. Which is why the final 20 minutes ends up being a bit of step down in quality as well in my opinion, as it really does feel like Bullet Train forgets what it is a bit, and trades rooted and well-presented action for outright dumb and wacky, almost comic book level chaos. Think going from Atomic Blonde to Hobbs & Shaw.
But, still there's no denying that Bullet Train remains an entertaining film from start to finish, despite its shortcomings. No, this isn't Pitt's best showing, and neither is it the best Leitch-directed film out there today, but is it a fun watch, one that will have you leaving the cinema with a mighty big grin across your face? Absolutely. It's daft, unique, filled with enough intrigue to keep you asking questions, and likewise enough silly yet well choreographed action that you will be engaged throughout most of the movie. For that simple reason I'd implore any action fans to give this one a watch, because no doubt it has something for you.