3 out 5 stars
Besides a few cameos, Brad Pitt has not been in a feature film since his Academy Award-winning performance in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He heads across the waters of the Pacific to Japan to partner with Deadpool 2 director David Leitch in this fast-paced assassin-centric adventure. This team will test the limits of action, violence, comedy, and public transportation with the who’s who of cinema on board for this all-stops thriller.
Pitt plays a damaged, but experienced hired killer who re-enters the game after a mental health hiatus. His handler, Maria (voiced by Sandra Bullock), has given him a simple grab and dash job to get him back in the mix and gives him the new moniker of Ladybug. After getting his tools of the trade in his pockets, he jumps on the bullet train heading to Kyoto, Japan, to collect a briefcase. An assignment that looks easy until he comes in contact with other assassins from his past. Each has a vendetta against him or others on the train leading to a constant barrage of violence, action and comedy.
For all who are trying to label this film, this may prove to be an impossible task since it doesn’t fit in any one category comfortably. There will be obvious comparisons to John Wick. Still, Pitt’s character is not as calculating and methodical as Keanu Reeve’s alter-ego. Some may point towards Deadpool for inspiration, and the comedic and violent elements may have found their inspiration in Leitch’s previous film. Still, this is not a superhero film, even though Ladybug does manage to survive superhuman situations. One retrospective connection could be Speed, since the train becomes a character in the journey, but this is a completely different storyline. Then there is the revenge saga incorporated into the screenplay, which adds a whole other layer to this film. This leaves the movie as an enigma wrapped up in a blood bath that will make you laugh along the way for good measure.
Every actor seems to be enjoying themselves and pushing the audience to the next unbelievable action sequence. Pitt does anchor the whole project through to the end, and even though he never breaks the fourth wall, he carries himself with the swagger that seems to say, ‘Did you like that? Just wait for what is coming next.’ He and the rest of the cast have an air of complete enjoyment and no one will win any awards for their roles in this film, except possibly the effects team. That being said, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry do manage to stand toe-to-toe with the megastar and deliver on what is expected in a film of this ilk. Also, whether they are in the movie for two minutes or for the complete story arc, each cast member looks to be having a ball. This aspect helps the audience to enjoy the film, too.
David Leitch does manage to find new levels of violence, blood, and language to explore. This will make this story less than accessible for the majority of audiences. Still, it will appeal to the John Wick, Nobody, Kill Bill and Deadpool fans worldwide. Especially since there are more twists and cameos to keep everyone engaged until the perplexing and ridiculous conclusion. This being the greatest weakness of the film, since it feels like an afterthought and they didn’t know how to bring the train home. Finally, Brad Pitt’s latest is not meant to be taken too seriously. Instead, it is intended to entertain, shock, and bring a bombastic finish to this cinematic season.
REEL DIALOGUE: Where can we find peace in life?
Bullet Train provides a comedic, but telling sign that people are looking for peace in this life. Zak Olkewicz’s screenplay weaves in the need to find peace through something different than money, revenge or even through death. Yet, his answers do prove to be less than effective.
What we can see in this cinematic portrayal is similar to the conclusion found to the musings of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes from the Old Testament of the Bible. Showing there is nothing new under the sun, even the land of the Rising Sun. The only thing that is different is that in the final chapter of Solomon's writings there is an answer to where peace can truly be found.
Passages from the Bible that on show where to find peace in this life: The Book of Ecclesiastes, John 16:33, Romans 15:13