priley84 loves movies and loves writing about them. He has written film reviews for his school paper and blogs.
Bullet Train (2022)
- Director: David Leitch
- Cast: Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Sandra Bullock, Joey King, Logan Lerman, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Bad Bunny, Zazie Beetz
I need to talk about the water bottle for a minute. It’s used to drug a character at one point, and rolls at another’s feet during the climactic action scene. Now, normally I wouldn’t even mention such a superfluous prop in a review, but Bullet Train is the sort of movie that’ll stop the action dead in its tracks to give us a backstory for the bottle. I think it was meant to be a moment of hilarity, but it had my jaw agape in disbelief.
Then again, Bullet Train is also the sort of movie that provides the tragic backstory for a character it immediately introduces and then kills off two minutes later. Said character is also nothing more than a plot device, who exists to keep our hero on the titular train. Oh, and it has another assassin that uses Thomas the Tank Engine as a metaphor for reading people. “You’re nothing but a dirty Diesel,” said assassin tells another character at one point.
Am I just getting cranky as I get older? I know the movie wants to be nothing more than a check-your-brain-at-the-door action comedy, and I’m normally all for that. Yet Bullet Train is not funny and not entertaining. It tries very hard to be both of those things (boy, does it ever), and it comes across as desperate. Based on the novel by Kōtarō Isaka, the movie was directed by David Leitch, the same man who gave us the terrifically entertaining Deadpool 2. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
The movie begins with a heavy and tonally inconsistent opening, in which a Japanese man named Kimura (Andrew Koji) sits in his little boy’s hospital room after his son is pushed off the roof of a department store. Who would do something as despicable as pushing a little boy off the roof of a department store? We eventually find out, and it leads to some horrifically contrived plot developments later on.
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Brad Pitt stars as an assassin code named “Lady Bug,” who wants to try to handle all of his future jobs in as nonviolent a way as possible. His handler (Sandra Bullock) hires him to go on the train and retrieve a briefcase. Sounds simple enough, but of course, nothing is as it seems. After figuring out what’s in the case, I could not, for the life of me, figure out why he was hired to retrieve it. Oh, it’s eventually explained in the end when the story’s main villain delivers his obligatory and surprisingly stupid Talking Killer monologue.
Speaking of stupid, there are two other killers on the train hired to bring home the son of a ruthless mobster known as The White Death (Michael Shannon). They’re Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry). They’re the sort of dim bulbs who’ll argue quite loudly about the number of people they killed during their last mission on a public train car. There’s also a malicious girl known as The Prince (Joey King), who has her own reasons for wanting the case, and who disappears for the entire climax of the movie before she shows up again for one more lame visual gag.
There is also Zazie Beatz, who plays an assassin called The Hornet and who uses snake venom to kill her targets (insert a truly ugly scene at a wedding where the guests start puking blood on one another). There’s also Hiroyuki Sanada as The Elder, Kimura’s father. If there’s anything nice I can say about the performances, it’s that it looks like everyone is having fun with their roles. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a lot of fun to watch.
I went into this movie with good spirits, and came out feeling angry and depressed. I always appreciate it when a movie has no agenda and just wants to entertain an audience. In today’s age, movies like that are becoming more and more rare. But even a movie like that needs a lot more than A-list actors yucking it up for the camera. Bullet Train has little to nothing to say in its favor. To call this movie dead on arrival is an insult to the dead.
Final Grade: ½ * (out of ****)
Rated R for strong bloody violence, lots of profanity, some sexual content
What did you think of this movie? :D
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