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August 19, 2022

Bullet Train Review: Going Off The Rails

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Brad Pitt plays Ladybug, a hitman ironically named because bad luck follows him everywhere. It’s no surprise this doesn’t change when his mentor (Sandra Bullock, mainly voiceover) gives him a job turned down by another hitman, a simple mission to get a briefcase on board a bullet train, going from Tokyo to Kyoto. Of course, things aren’t as easy as expected, as several other assassins are on board with the same objective and no obstacle will stand in their way. That includes British hitmen Lemon and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry) and the mysterious sociopath known only as The Prince (Joey King), and more climb aboard as the vehicle draws closer to its target.

Shortly after boarding the train, the film strangely loses interest in Pitt’s protagonists for most of the first act, spending much more time with the bickering British hitmen, played by Taylor-Johnson and Tyree Henry. This is not a complaint; The pair have an infectious comedic chemistry that feels lived-in and helps them land jokes that would likely feel tiresome in the hands of other performers. Namely, this is a recurring joke about Thomas the Tank Engine, which by a conservative estimate makes up about 95% of Tyree Henry’s total dialogue in the film, which takes more time than it takes at the hands of any other actor to become unbearable – though By the third act, you’ll probably never want to hear the names of the trains from the Isle of Sodor ever again.

With each assassin in the film being modeled after characters from a different action film subgenre, the couple’s characters pay the most obvious homage, feeling like they’ve just walked in from an early Guy Ritchie film, complete with the Tarantino-esque pop culture riffing. It’s a testament to their on-screen presence that this never feels stale, even when the characters are the furthest from fresh archetypes imaginable. They aren’t the first action movie characters to humorously comment on the unfolding drama as viewers would, and they certainly won’t be the last.



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