Film Review: Bullet Train is frenetically paced and brutally violent

Adapted from Kōtarō Isaka’s novel by Zak Olkewicz and directed by David Leitch, Bullet Train finds Pitt resurrecting his comic persona from The Mexican, that of the hapless klutz bedevilled by fate. 
Film Review: Bullet Train is frenetically paced and brutally violent

Undated film still handout from Bullet Train. Pictured: (L-R) Bryan Tyree Henry as Lemon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Tangerine. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ Film Bullet Train. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/©Sony Pictures Releasing/2022 CTMG. All Rights Reserved. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature SHOWBIZ Film Bullet Train.

★★★★☆

A professional assassin in search of spiritual enlightenment, Ladybug (Brad Pitt) boards a Bullet Train (16s) travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto in order to steal a briefcase containing ten million dollars.

Brad Pitt stars in Bullet Train.
Brad Pitt stars in Bullet Train.

Ladybug, alas, is experiencing a ‘Biblical’ run of bad luck that involves accidentally killing people he’s not being paid to kill; mind you, that’s not the worst habit to have when you find yourself on a train teeming with fellow assassins, among them Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry), Prince (Joey King) and The Hornet (Zazie Beetz). Adapted from Kōtarō Isaka’s novel by Zak Olkewicz and directed by David Leitch, Bullet Train finds Pitt resurrecting his comic persona from The Mexican, that of the hapless klutz bedevilled by fate. 

It’s a well-worn groove, if no less enjoyable for all that, although it’s the bickering duo of Lemon and Tangerine – an unlikely pair of Cockney twins – who provide the funniest moments as they attempt to return a prodigal son to the Russian mobster known as the White Death (Michael Shannon) who is also expecting to receive a briefcase containing ten million dollars.

Bad Bunny and Brad Pitt star in Bullet Train. 
Bad Bunny and Brad Pitt star in Bullet Train. 

Frenetically paced and brutally violent, and featuring a number of unexpected cameos, Bullet Train comes on like a blackly comic Murder on the Orient Express featuring a woebegone Jason Bourne tortured by his life choices, and while the latter stages are unnecessarily complicated by retrospective exposition, the pulsating journey is a ride worth taking. (cinema release)

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