Review: Starring Brad Pitt, Bad Bunny, & More, 'Bullet Train' is Messy, Violent Fun

by Derek Deskins

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday August 5, 2022

Brad Pitt and Bad Bunny in 'Bullet Train'
Brad Pitt and Bad Bunny in 'Bullet Train'  (Source:Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures)

Director David Leitch has this magical ability to make movies that are unrelentingly entertaining. From "John Wick" through "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw," he can take a movie that is fine (maybe even dumb) on paper and turn it into something special. That isn't to say that they are "good movies" by whatever metric the "film educated" would measure, but they are movies that get you excited, make you jump in your seat, and have you laughing and cheering in equal measure. "Bullet Train" is Leitch furthering his streak of violent fun.

Career criminal Ladybug (Brad Pitt) has been taking some time off. Convinced that he is bad luck, he's started to get enough confidence to dip his toe back into the game. For now, he's just filling in for someone else on what should be a basic snatch-and-grab job. After boarding the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, Ladybug soon finds out that not everything is the way it seems. With a train full of assassins, this job just got a lot more complicated.

"Bullet Train" is a movie that is propelled by the charisma of its cast. And boy, what a cast this thing has. Brad Pitt does most of the driving, and his goofy "stoner with good intent" vibe is unendingly endearing. He is the nicest of bad guys, the type of lead that the audience can't help but root for. Outside of Pitt, Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson stand out particularly brightly as Lemon and Tangerine. The two play off of one each wonderfully, with a rapport that suggests years of familiarity with the fewest of words. They are foils to Pitt's Ladybug, but due to the strength of their performances, you can't help but want them to succeed.

One thing that Leitch seems to always struggle with in his films is plot, and that ends up being "Bullet Train's" only real problem. The story is absolute insanity that laughs at the general idea of logic. It is less a coherent story and more a series of action-based setups that never forget to nail their punchlines. If you see an item or hear someone make an offhand quip about something seemingly unrelated, it will always come back later.

To this end, "Bullet Train" pushes the limits of Chekov's gun to its breaking point. It's not only guns, though; it's poison, knives, stickers, and giant mascot costumes. The thoroughness with which everything must have a payoff is exhausting. And the "everything is connected" through-line of the movie almost gets tiresome (especially with the over-reliance on flashbacks that is just this close to calling the audience stupid).

But, honestly, none of that really matters. The story is the least intriguing part of the movie, and Leitch seems to tacitly know that. Instead, he flexes his knowledge of the stunt game with action choreography that is mesmerizing. Even better, the action is presented so coherently and with such ease that you are left wondering why other movies just can't seem to get it right. That attention to action detail extends from the simpler hand-to-hand scuffles all the way to giant CGI-driven spectacles, complete with explosions and amputated limbs.

"Bullet Train" is a blast! Front-to-back, this movie is an absolute great time in the theater. Its plot is a mess, its characters have simplistic motivations, and it doesn't even approach anything close to reality; but I don't care at all. It's fluffy, brightly colored, action packed entertainment, and sometimes, that's all you really want.

"Bullet Train" is in theaters August 5.