Review: Bullet Train

Title: Bullet Train
Director: David Leitch
MPAA Rating: R
Starring: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Runtime: 2 hrs 7 mins

What It Is: Ladybug (Pitt) is an unlucky assassin who’s determined to do his job peacefully after one too many gigs have gone off the rails. Fate, however, may have other plans as his latest mission puts him on a collision course with lethal adversaries from around the globe — all with connected yet conflicting objectives — on the world’s fastest train.

What We Think: What a fantastic summer flick. I had the opportunity of seeing this in a fully packed theater at 10 pm on a Sunday, and it was nothing short of thrilling. That being said, theater experiences are as subjective or personal as they come, and seeing this in an empty one (or at home alone) would diminish the blockbuster grandiose Bullet Train joyfully basks in.

The story is something familiar, absolutely, but it’s the setting of that particular scenario here that really pops out. The neon glow of a bullet train racing throughout Japan offers a fluorescent frenzy of various action set pieces, whimsical comedic bits, and moments of restrained calm throughout. One thing’s for sure – the pace never falters once. Pitt and co. deliver charismatic and compelling performances, and there are surprise cameos throughout that were welcome additions to the building boil of devilish (yet at times endearing) character encounters/interactions that made up the heart of the picture. Joey King is finally allowed to flourish in a role that looks like she really has a blast with, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry are brilliant as a veteran duo with a remarkable rapport, and as for Pitt, he’s as likable as he’s always been. (Other incredible actors are present as well, but due to plot details, it’s safer to keep it under wraps here.)

I’m quite surprised to see how much of a critical divide there is with a movie such as this one. There’s really no reason why something that’s so much fun for all audiences (which the 100-something folks in the theater I was in can definitely agree with) should be looked at in the opposite sense of the word. Understandably, we do live in an age where colorful, flashy action pictures with superheroes rule over the summer season, but the critical desensitization of such genres isn’t why Bullet Train might be something “we’ve seen all before, tried and true” – Bullet Train exceeds at being more than that, and it knows it.

Our Grade: A; Thrilling, hilarious, and unapologetically comfortable in its own genre, Bullet Train is a must-see, and most preferably with a few amigos – an experience begging to be had.