‘Bullet Train’ review: Nonstop fun and action-filled experience

After filming the movie for months during the COVID pandemic, “Bullet Train” finally came to theaters and brought in a fun, action-packed tale that will keep moviegoers entertained by the creativity of these scenes. 

Directed by David Leitch (John Wick, Deadpool 2 & Hobbs/Shaw) the film is an adaptation of the Japanese novel “Mantle Beetle” (Bullet Train in English) written by Kotaro Isaka. The film still takes place in Japan like in the novel but most of the characters ended up being changed to Western actors and actresses for the movie. 

This sparked accusations about whitewashing characters from the original novel.

“I don’t have any feeling of wanting people to understand Japanese literature or culture,” Isaka said to The New York Times. “It’s not like I understand that much about Japan, either.”

“Bullet Train” was supposed to be an action thriller but was changed to a more lighthearted action film during production. 

The film stars Brad Pitt as an assassin named “Ladybug” who after attending therapy due to accidental death in his job, was tasked to enter a bullet train to acquire a case filled with $10 million ransom money from an underworld crime boss known as the White Death (played by Michael Shannon). 

What Ladybug doesn’t know is that there are multiple assassins there with him, each with their own motives and backstories on coming to Japan, with each of them crossing paths to kill one another. 

All of them have one goal: get the briefcase, exit the train and kill anyone who gets in their way.

The plot is simple yet effective, taking scenes and areas described in the novel like private first class cabins, public seating stations, and even a control room and adding its own flair and style despite being a regular bullet train. This film is unique in that it has all the characters in one area instead of traveling from place to place, as the majority of the film takes place on a train. 

It’s one of the few movies that I know that only has one setting for the majority of the film with examples being “The Breakfast Club” and Albert Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat”(1944).

Every cast member brings a unique flavor to their roles, making the characters entertaining to watch. The biggest draw is the investment of finding out each assassin’s reason for boarding the train. 

Brad Pitt nails the part of an assassin who doesn’t like to kill or cause violence but is extremely funny when things don’t go his way, like accidentally killing people in the funniest ways possible. 

Another example of good acting comes from Aaron Taylor Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry as the twins Tangerine and Lemon. Both actors have amazing chemistry together playing their roles in a way that makes the audience care about them. 

One funny gag about Henry’s character is his obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine. It was so out of the left field that make his character even funnier. 

Though some characters are only there for a few minutes, their backstories are interesting and smartly done.

The action in the film is incredible. Coming from John Wick, Leitch knows how to direct a good fight scene, with the actors using different weapons that you would never see professional killers use, like water bottles or briefcases or something as harmless as a doll that can potentially kill someone.

 It’s both very creative and unique in most fight scenes while also giving the film its own identity. These scenes didn’t take away from the story, which is simple to understand and flows at a smooth pace. 

The movie was also pretty funny with the dialogue being good and a couple of visual gags that had most people in the theater laughing. However, some jokes didn’t fit well and made some scenes awkward and sometimes dark. 

An example was when Ladybug was fighting the Hornet and in the end, she poisons herself and while suffering painfully, Ladybug just stands there asking if she needs anything despite knowing she’s slowly and painfully dying.

Characters that were supposed to be Japanese are of different races. which goes against what an adaptation of a book is supposed to be. 

While I did enjoy Brad Pitt’s scenes in the film as well as the rest of the cast’s roles, it’s something to think about when talking about types of movies like these. 

The film is a solid action experience meant to have fun and see interesting characters and crazy action scenes. 

I give “Bullet Train” an 8/10, a recommended watch with friends and family.