Brad Pitt in a still from the film
  • Release Date: 04/08/2022
  • Cast: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry
  • Director: David Leitch

Intriguing, darkly funny, and violent! Brad Pitt and the ensemble cast excel in an outrageously over-the-top film

— Ambar Chatterjee

I went into Bullet Train expecting nothing more than a decent action thriller and what I got was way more than what I could have expected.

The Story:-

Bullet Train stars Brad Pitt as Ladybug, a private contractor who does odd jobs for people that range between killing, robbing, and extraction. His latest assignment is stealing a briefcase from a Bullet train in Japan. This is supposed to be an easy task and to Ladybug’s surprise, it goes smoothly for a while before all hell breaks loose in a matter of seconds. He soon realizes that a whole lot of other people on the train apart from him are interested in the same briefcase. Some of these men are also hell-bent on killing him or each other. Stuck in a claustrophobic and inescapable journey, Ladybug is in for one wild night.

The execution of the story:-

A film like Bullet Train is dependent as much on the story as it is on the execution. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the film had a layered narrative that keeps going back and forth in time. Each of the characters involved in the film has solid back stories that give them the required reasons to be on that train. These people are also extremely motivated for a plethora of different reasons and that makes the atmosphere on the train even tenser. Another aspect of the storytelling that I loved was the fact that the director doesn’t tell us about all the characters and their motivations at once. We learn about some of these characters after they are dead. How their stories are presented is still so on point and the timing of it is so perfect that one cannot help but be intrigued by the storytelling.

Well-written and quirky dialogue between characters:-

Bullet Train was unthinkably dialogue-heavy. I never expected it to have so much banter between the characters. Neither did I expect it to have such smart and quirky writing. I had a grin on my face almost throughout the film and it was not only due to the smart and funny dialogue between the characters but also because of how much sense these dialogues made given their respective predicaments. 

Well-developed characters that are essayed with conviction and gusto:-

The primary players are well developed. Their character traits are defined and then used to extract comedy and thrills. Ladybug is someone who is seeing a therapist and he seems to be highly motivated by the borderline philosophical teachings of this therapist. Unfortunately, he keeps forgetting the line of work he is in, and more than that bad luck seems to follow him everywhere. No matter how much he tries, people keep dying around him and this makes him increasingly upset. However traumatic this situation might be for Ladybug, it proves to be a source of some of the most hilarious moments of the film.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry in a still

Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) are a group of assassins who are known as the twins. Lemon is inspired by a kid’s show about animated characters that are essentially trains. Basic human nature and issues are portrayed through these characters in the show. His constant bantering about the characters and their characteristics from the show and how he draws parallels of that with the people around him will have many in splits. Brian Tyree Henry not only gets his comic timing right but is also effective and believable as the character that he portrays. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is ever so likable and he does his best here. While he may not be the source of much comedy but he provides some of the other characters the necessary room to portray their comic guiles.

Joey King plays an out-an-out negative character but she is so sly and effective in her rendition of the character that her character ends up being not only effective but also weirdly likable. She gets the better of men twice her size almost from start to finish. She uses her tears so effectively that when one of the characters realizes that she is faking her fear, he cannot help but appreciate and applaud her sly maneuvers.

The film has a large number of friendly appearances and I do not want to spoil your fun by listing them out here. Suffice is to say that each of these appearances is in strong keeping with the plot and nature of the film and works wonders for the film. Some of the characters are so effective that they nearly chew up entire scenes even in the presence of the major actors.

Action sequences that could have been better:-

The action of the film is good but could have been better. I always have an issue with hyper-edited action sequences. This has been a recurring problem with many Hollywood films and Bullet Train is plagued by this very problem. However, what the film lacks in the gusto of the physical action, it makes up for with a gratuitous dose of violence and mayhem. The film is rated “A” and it delivers on its promise of being a no holds barred mayhem where blood is spilled and bodies are chopped with very little regard for what may be an assault on the delicate sense of acceptability of many viewers.

A still from the film

The cinematography and CGI complement each other:-

The cinematography and CGI of the film work well in tandem. I say this because almost the entirety of the Bullet train sequences are either CGI or are shot on sets erected on sound stages. When you see the film it is almost impossible to put a finger on anything that feels out of place unless you watch it frame by frame. The Japanese government didn’t allow for the shooting to take place in real Japanese trains or stations and this led the makers to shoot the Japanese scenery separately and integrate it later digitally with the actual set and characters. This combination of cinematography and CGI is flawless and leads to a well-realized compounded effect that was critical to the success of the film.

Satisfying climax:-

I loved the climax of the film. There was over-reliance on the CGI and action in the climax and this should have been avoided. I loved how the entire story and every aspect of it came together to deliver one final knockout punch. There isn’t anything in the story that is left unexplained. Even the final surprise is explained within minutes of it happening. That kind of finality and the release that the film ensures was exactly what I wanted.

Final Words:-

Bullet Train has one of the worst trailers that a film of this nature could have. It is also a fact that it is very difficult to tell the audience what this film is about without spoiling a certain portion of it. Thus we cannot even blame the people who created the trailer. I can only urge my audiences to go for this film without watching or reading anything about it. Experience it fresh and firsthand. That is the best way to see this film. I am sure you will have an enjoyable time with this film.      

Rating: 4 out of 5.


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