Directed by: David Leitch
Distributed by: Sony
Written by Alexander Reams
Brad Pitt’s latest star vehicle “Bullet Train” moves a lot like its subject, at a breakneck speed. Leitch manages to not telegraph its many surprises. The film opens with Kimura (Andrew Koji) in a strong role in which he handles himself with ease. Then there’s The Prince (Joey King, in the only action movie starring her this summer that’s worth watching), the twins Lemon and Tangerine (Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, respectively), The Elder (Hiroyuki Sanada, an always welcome presence), The Wolf (Bad Bunny, who is a surprisingly good actor), The Hornet (Zazie Beetz), and the man himself, Michael Shannon, who is called “White Death”, sometimes with a “The” beforehand.
From the moment we see The White Death’s fighting trials in the Minegishi crime family, it’s apparent that he is going to make life difficult for everyone on the train. Shannon will show up in big blockbusters every now and again, but his fare is typically arthouse. He is clearly enjoying himself as he plays this very comical character. Comical in the sense that he wears a devil mask, and plays Russian roulette while 90s-esque rock blares in the background, it works. And that’s the overarching theme of Leitch’s “Bullet Train”, it works, but maybe it shouldn’t. The script is basic, and there are some lines that are cringey. But Brad Pitt sets the tone for everyone in the film, and the entire cast follows and strives to get on his level. The craziness and ingenuity of the action set pieces, and the accidental deaths all worked, and even the horrific ones are played in a way that it feels okay to laugh. The biggest falter is at the end, which turned into a CGI mishmash that felt rushed and unfinished. The breakneck speed of “Bullet Train” could’ve easily collapsed into a mess, but with a strong hand on the directing helm by Leitch, it stayed on the rails as long as it needed to.
“Bullet Train” Trailer