Bullet Train finds Brad Pitt as a man named Lady Bug sent on a job that goes heavily wrong. In the spirit of films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and the divisive Smokin’ Aces, the film brings together a cluster of unlikely bad guys, all with adjacent motives. And just like those movies, watching them all collide in a string of chaotic encounters is fun.
Director David Leitch continues to show he can orchestrate fantastic fight and action sequences. And between Deadpool 2 and Atomic Blonde, his new effort shows a filmmaker attempting to challenge himself with character juggling. But with all his strengths, Bullet Train embodies some of Leitch’s worst impulses prevalent in Hobbs and Shaw.
But is Bullet Train worth watching in theaters? Here are our in-depth thoughts about the film starring Brad Pitt.
The film centers on several key characters, with Pitt’s role as Lady Bug at the center of the madness. The assassins onboard this train of mayhem are brothers Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Prince (Joey King), The Elder (Hiroyuki Sanada), Wolf (Bad Bunny), and a mystery man known as White Death.
It is difficult to explain how all the characters connect and tie together. The plot moves insanely fast, making it feel overwhelming to needle together all the threads. What can be surmised is some characters are after a briefcase, some are there as a means of protection, a couple of them are out for vengeance, and Lady Bug is sent to perform a simple job (snatch the briefcase) and get out fast. But Lady Bug is not so lucky.
As he tries to depart the train, he is greeted by violence from a series of characters. A few of these action sequences are incredibly clever and riddled with comedy, while others are ludicrously absurd. The movie has zero intention of making things plausible and sometimes makes some of the Fast & Furious films feel like a documentary. For example, Aaron Taylor-Johnson jumps on the train as it moves at an insane speed and punches his way through the glass.
Guy Ritchie comedy meets Tarantino violence
The comedy is in the vein of Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino, where an unlikely mixture of gangsters cross paths, and comedic violence ensues. And the film is excessively violent, to an extreme that this reviewer was not expecting. It does not hinder the experience; the marketing downplayed this aspect of the film, so it might surprise the viewer when somebody gets their head blown in half.
The dialogue is very quick-witted and fast-paced in its delivery and surprisingly written quite well for a film of this caliber. Most of this is thanks to Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry, who share the best banter of the movie.
Henry and Taylor-Johnson are the heart and soul of Bullet Train. While Pitt is the protagonist of the film, the characters of Lemon and Tangerine make the film spark. Henry and Taylor-Johnson have great chemistry and by the time the film switches into high gear, the audience will believe these two men are brothers.
Bullet Train might have fun action and outstanding performances, but the film is quite a mess. The film is overstuffed with so many characters and plot threads that it can be difficult to piece it all together; not to mention, many scenes are highly unrealistic in execution. Extreme violence happens around passengers, and everyone acts normal. One scene shows Pitt’s face all bloodied, and the train stewardess acts casual around him. One can argue it does not intend to have realism, but in this movie, it requires some gymnastics in belief.
The finale is over-the-top to a fault and becomes tiresome. It has that same loud and exhaustive feeling that one gets in some of Michael Bay’s movies. It does not break the experience as a whole, but it does become a tedious watch as it draws to a close.
Should you watch Bullet Train in theaters?
Bullet Train is a messy, over-the-top, and often nutty actioner. It requires excessive gymnastics in the suspension of disbelief department, but Brad Pitt makes it fun. The characters and dialogue are expertly written with some hilarious performances throughout. And Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson steal the show from Pitt.
Despite some absurd elements, moviegoers should get their money’s worth. Just be prepared for a strange aftertaste when driving home two hours later.
Readers seeking more reviews can check out our coverage of Nope and Don’t Make Me Go.
Bullet Train hits theaters everywhere tomorrow.