So far, this year, there haven’t been many movies that I wanted to write about. Yet this one caught my attention because it’s one of the few on my most anticipated movie list that wasn’t a sequel or loosely attached to an established franchise. Brad Pitt, contract killers, in the confine of a bullet train? I was curious. David Leitch (Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde) being at the helm wasn’t a selling point for me but the fact that it’s adapted from a Japanese book of the same name by Kôtarô Isaka piqued my interest. I like reading books by authors from around the world particularly when they are not westerners. Plus the cast they assembled for this is pretty great, Brian Tyree Henry, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Joey King, Andrew Koji, and Sandra Bullock to name a few.
Premise: Ladybug is an unlucky assassin who is about to board the Shinkansen, the Japanese high-speed train, for a simple suitcase recovery mission. He is determined to do this job peacefully after one too many of his gigs have gone off the rails. At the same time, Kimura boards the bullet train with a gun hidden in his bag. His target? The person who pushed his 6-year-old son off a roof, leaving him between life and death. What Ladybug and Kimura don’t know is that they are on a collision course with lethal adversaries, Kimura is far from being the only armed passenger.
Review: I started to read the book this movie is based on months ago but I paused it because the story was a little slow to start and the movie kind of reflects that. The first quarter of the movie set things up, the characters, their missions, and the looming threat that all these people face that they are unaware of. It was very reminiscent of the book and pretty much represented what I read of it.
The movie overall has a more of lighthearted tone, it’s a bit goofy while being dark at times. The jokes are alright, not all of them landed for me but I still had fun. The way all the stories converged also worked for me and because I wasn’t inundated by the trailers, which I heard had many spoilers, a lot of the twists and turns remained surprises.
I love the cast, from the main characters to the extras, and the cameos. Since there were mysterious elements to the story, anyone could have an assassin in hiding so having recognizable actors has glorified extras added to the suspense. The boys‘ Karen Fukuhara‘s role could be seen as frustrating but she served as a great red haring for me, the same goes for Masi Oka. As for Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry they are great in this movie but I was a little surprised by who of the two played Lemon. On paper I would have swapped their roles but they killed it. Even if it took me some getting use to but Lemon and Tangerine became my favorites. Andrew Koji kind of threw me for a loop because I was so distracted whenever he was on screen. He did a great job but he reminded me so much of Robert Pattinson, I kept seeing Pattinson in The Batman.
Obviously Bullet Train is not perfect, it could have been funnier and/or grittier, but it remains entertaining, it will at least put a smile on your face. The action scenes are solid and mostly grounded but they do become fantastical at times.