Sun | Sep 24, 2023

‘Bullet Train’ full speed fun

Published:Friday | August 12, 2022 | 12:07 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer
Oscar winner Brad Pitt stars as Ladybug in the action thriller, ‘Bullet Train’.
Oscar winner Brad Pitt stars as Ladybug in the action thriller, ‘Bullet Train’.

Aboard a Japanese bullet train, an assassin-turned-pacifist named Ladybug embarks on his latest assignment. Sworn against violence, he aims to get in, grab a mysterious briefcase, and get off at the train’s next stop. Unfortunately for Ladybug, he’s the most unlucky assassin in the world. His fellow train riders are assassins themselves, and unlike him, they’ve no qualms about taking a life to finish their mission.

The story gets more convoluted from there, but in a surprisingly focused fashion. Each of the assassins has a distinct personality, style and story. Upon meeting each of them, the style is what intrigues you, and the stories that follow each time feel satisfying. Bullet Train has them all folded into one another, making it feel like you’re watching five movies at once. Director David Leitch certainly has an eye for action, but with Bullet Train its the characters who stick with you the most.

That’s not to say the action isn’t exhilarating. The movie plays well with the limitations of a confined space. Characters can’t run from their pursuers as much as they’d like, and the film’s situations elevate the scenes beyond your standard fist fights and shoot-outs.

Watching a fight scene that pays respect to the train’s ‘quiet section’, or stops out of respect for a nearby stewardess gave me some laughs. There’s a looney tunes quality to the film’s humour, but instead of seeing stars, the characters suffer contusions and broken bones. The violence is cartoonish, further served by the wily characters engaging in it.

As whimsical as it gets, there were moments where Bullet Train would be heavily sentimental. The characters are exaggerated, but have a humanity that caught me off guard. The same can be said for the development of the plot. Every time the film seemed to be going one way, it would throw me for a loop with an abrupt complication.

For some, Bullet Train will be too much too fast. It tears through character development and moves swiftly to the action, which can cause something of a disconnect with its main players. As it quickly shifts from one plotline to the next, watching Bullet Train requires its audience to bob and weave as it throws its punches. If you’re able to keep up, it’s a rewarding watch that embraces its tone and delivers on a fun time at the cinema.

Rating: Big Screen Watch