The Problem of Almost: Our Review of ‘Bullet Train’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - August 04, 2022
The Problem of Almost: Our Review of ‘Bullet Train’

“I’m going fast, Mama!!!”

On the surface, which is where this movie lives; Bullet Train feels like the Quentin Tarantino got hired to make a Fast and Furious film.  While it’s a little over crowded in its break neck 126 min runtime, it’s still a hell of a lot of fun and worth a dive into the deep end of your closest available popcorn bucket.

Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is an unlucky assassin determined to do his job peacefully after one too many gigs gone off the rails. Fate, however, may have other plans, as Ladybug’s latest mission puts him on a collision course with lethal adversaries from around the globe—all with connected, yet conflicting, objectives—on the world’s fastest train.

To put it simply; Bullet Train has pure unfiltered popcorn in its very DNA and running through its veins.  It’s all about executing a fun and gonzo premise as entertainingly as humanly possibly with a cavalcade of interesting characters throughout this break neck ride of a movie.

Bullet Train is actually going so fast that it might give you whiplash while watching the damn thing.

Director David Leitch is no stranger to making something fast paced with efforts like John Wick, Hobbs & Shaw and the Deadpool franchise under his belt and here we are simply set in motion going as fast as we can towards our destination.  It all obviously looks great and colourful as we are never bored and can’t take our eyes off the go-go action of it all with a few laughs along the way.

Leitch does a pretty solid job in balancing it all as the script from screenwriter Zak Olkewicz (who adapted from the book by Kotaro Isaka) is cramming in so much exposition that it almost sets us as viewers into tilt mode.  The key word here being ‘almost’ as the story and character development all fit the pace at which we’ve quickly become accustom to in digesting it all.  Even when the jokes don’t land….another isn’t that far off and that’s how this whole thing is structured.

The movie is called Bullet Train after all for god’s sake, any kind of languid or drawn out narrative would have felt a little ridiculous, even when it is taking us through so many plot twists and turns it ‘almost’ gets difficult to keep up.  There’s that word again; ‘almost’.

Amazingly enough it’s really the performances in Bullet Train that actually make this all work as every single actor 100% owns the kind of film they are making here.

Brad Pitt isn’t trying to be anything other than a world weary sarcastic courier who has a skill for survival when he is in over his head.  The lead needed a sense of humor in this day glow world we are thrust into or it just wouldn’t have worked.

With a wide array of players like Aaron-Taylor Johnson and Bryan Tyree Henry helping Brad drive the bulk of the action, along with Joey King delivering some surprising work, Hiroyuki Sanada providing some sage wisdom and Bad Bunny, Zazie Beetz and Masi Oka bringing the crazy that ranges from serious to hilarious, everything about the performances in this film is about keeping the audience on their toes.  When you add a couple of cameos that we don’t want to spoil into the mix, Bullet Train is that kind of ride where you just know everything about the people is just a little bit off…and you can’t help but be entertained by it.

As you boil it all down, Bullet Train is worth the trip to see it all unfold as largely and as loudly as you possibly can as it’s filled with action, fun characters and a soundtrack you’ll want to listen to over and over again.

While it almost falls into the realm of being a genuinely memorable piece of gonzo action cinema that could have been remembered for the ages, it’s still an effective diversion on a hot summer day to get lost in.  But there’s that word again; ‘almost’.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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