‘Bullet Train’ Review: Despite occasional hiccups keeps the viewer engaged with its twists and turns

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

Murtaza Ali Khan

David Leitch, along with Chad Stahelski, is responsible for revitalizing the Hollywood action genre by stylizing it visually and making it more thrilling, raw and kinetic viscerally. Starting his career as a stunt performer and stunt coordinator, Leitch made his directorial debut on the 2014 action film John Wick (along with Chad Stahelski, though only Stahelski was credited). Leitch then directed the 2017 thriller film Atomic Blonde, starring Charlize Theron, and Deadpool 2 (2018), the sequel to the 2016 film. In 2019, he directed Hobbs & Shaw, a spin-off of the Fast & Furious franchise. And now he brings to us an acting comedy film starring Brad Pitt titled ‘Bullet Train.’ Based on the Japanese novel titled ‘Maria Beetle,’ published in English as ‘Bullet Train,’ by Kōtarō Isaka, the film also stars Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Hiroyuki Sanada, Andrew Koji, and Michael Shannon in pivotal roles. The film also features cameos from the likes of Ryan Gosling, Chaning Tatum, Sandra Bullock, Zazie Beetz, and Karen Fukuhara.

As the title suggests, the film is set in its entirety inside a bullet train, except for the flashback sequences. The story follows a seasoned but unlucky American assassin named ‘Ladybug,’ who wants to quit the profession but is pulled back in by his handler in order to collect a briefcase on a bullet train heading from Tokyo to Kyoto. Onboard the train, ‘Ladybug’ and the other rival assassins gradually discover that their objectives are all intertwined. They are all related to a mafia kingpin named ‘White Death’ whose son and estranged daughter too are on the train. All hell breaks loose when the different assassins come face to face on the train. What ensues is a high stake game wherein even a slight miscalculation might prove fatal.

‘Bullet Train’ was initially developed by Antoine Fuqua who serves as one of the producers on the film through his ‘Fuqua Films’ banner. The film was also originally intended to be an intense action thriller film in the vein of ‘Die Hard,’ but the project evolved into a light-hearted action comedy film during the development process. That’s when David Leitch came on board. The screenplay by Zak Olkewicz is replete with whacky encounters and the bullet train setting helps elevate the drama. The fun-filled performances on offer greatly add to the mood and the setting.

The part of ‘Ladybug’ is essayed by Brad Pitt who has proven time and again that he can act contrary to the general perception owing to his ubiquitous stardom. ‘Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood’ came at just the right time in Pitt’s career and gave him not just the long-awaited Oscar but also a much-deserved acceptance as an actor capable of getting into the skin of characters. While Pitt had already shown his acting range and capabilities in some earlier films as well, his portrayal Cliff Booth, a war veteran turned stunt double, gave a tremendous boost to his reputation. In ‘Bullet Train,’ he once again gets back to his commercial acting ways, essaying an uber-cool assassin whose bad luck refuses to let go him. It’s certainly not a Brad Pitt performance that the keen-eyed viewers would approve but it is great fun nonetheless.

Pitt is well supported by the rest of the ensemble cast. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is superb as ‘Tangerine,’ a British assassin. His brother ‘Lemon’ is essayed by Brian Tyree Henry who is equally brilliant in the part. Both actors play off each other and create something very memorable. Puerto Rican rapper and singer Benito A. Martínez Ocasio impresses in his cameo as the Mexican assassin ‘The Wolf.’ While Andrew Koji looks solid in the role of a young Japanese assassin named Yuichi Kimura, Hiroyuki Sanada is wonderful to watch as Kimura’s father. Michael Shannon looks menacing as ‘White Death.’ But the film’s biggest surprise package is Joey King in the role of a British assassin named ‘The Prince.’ Every time she comes on the screen she proves to be the scene stealer.

‘Bullet Train’ does suffer from occasional hiccups and pacing issues (clocking at 126 minutes, it is at least 15 minutes too long), but the constant twists and turns as well as the wonderful performances on offer keep the viewer engaged for the most part. This is the kind of a film that’s meant to be watched on the big screen. If you are an action lover then you certainly wouldn’t be disappointed. 

A version of this review was first published in The Sunday Guardian.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated 

About A Potpourri of Vestiges

People who liked this also liked...
Share on Google Plus


Post a Comment

Thanks for sharing for valuable opinion. We would be delighted to have you back.