‘Bullet Train’ is nothing you haven’t seen before, but you don’t want to hear me say that amongst my fellow CineBoiz. According to one of the ‘Boiz (who I won’t mention by name, but you’ll definitely know if you listen to this week’s episode) it’s one of the best films of the year. As a journalist, I’m here to tell you the truth…’Bullet Train’ is OK. It’s loud, kinda dumb, but it does have some very fun moments. It also helps that there are plenty of laughs, and Brad Pitt is looking as handsome as ever. When it’s all said and done though, ‘Bullet Train’ is probably about 20 minutes too long and even its biggest fans will likely forget about it in a few weeks. In fact…I’d bet that some certain CineBoiz will forget to nominate it for Best Movie come “Tommy Award” season.
In a Nutshell…
‘Bullet Train’ is a pretty basic movie to describe. Essentially, Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is an assassin who’s handler has booked him a job on a Japanese bullet train. His mission is simple enough–hop on the train and retrieve a briefcase. Unbeknownst to him, the briefcase is in the possession of two other assassins (Lemon played by Brian Tyree Henry and Tangerine played by Aaron Taylor Johnson) who have been contracted for a mission by a mysterious character known as The White Death. Not long after discovering each other’s presence, more and more assassins start showing up and it becomes very clear that something is going on that is bigger than each individual’s mission. This makes for plenty of twists and turns that take us well into the end of the movie.
‘Bullet Train’ has a decent amount going for it, even if it seems like my feelings toward it seem so-so. Its story is pretty engaging and takes some fun turns. What is most well done is all of the individual stories in the film tie-in together efficiently by the end. It’s always fun when a movie keeps you guessing and successfully ties up some loose ends. ‘Bullet Train’ does that well.
What it seems to not do particularly well is pace itself. It seems like we are given plenty of information to tie together all of the loose-ends, but then the movie goes on for about another 30 minutes. For the fast-paced action thriller that it’s billed as, it takes a remarkably long time to reach its conclusion. On top of that, the loose-ends that it does tie up, aren’t the one’s that you are particularly invested in throughout the film.
Almost As Advertised
The characters are truly where this film shines. Brad Pitt in particular does a fantastic job of playing an action lead, who in all honesty is a bit of a chump. Very much Kurt Russell vibes a-la ‘Big Trouble in Little China’. His presence is a unique and fun addition to a cast that keeps things light and fun in the midst of a lot of violence and gore. The cast also excels at relating the nuances of working a violent and dangerous job in such a crazy environment. The different cars and environments on the train tend to add to the chaos and laughs throughout the film.
The unfortunate part of ‘Bullet-Train’ though is the over-billing of certain characters in trailers and sneak-peeks.. I wont say who in particular, but several characters who seem like they might play a big role end up barely being utilized.
From a technical standpoint, ‘Bullet Train’ looks and feels great. It’s almost sensory overload, but it adds to the fast-paced, rock-concert feel that the movie seems to go for. Also, it gets a bump from some very funny and very well-placed cameos. I won’t say who or when, but they got a very big reaction in the theater.
Will it stand the test of time?
All-in-all, I really won’t say that ‘Bullet Train’ is a bad movie, cuz honestly it’s not. I originally had given it 2.5 Stars on Letterboxd, but upon reflection I bumped it up to 3 stars. There’s nothing truly wrong with the movie, and it has some very fun moments. The downside of ‘Bullet Train’ really is that it doesn’t stick the greatest of landings and it does it probably about 20 or so minutes after it should’ve. On top of that, given all of the fun and craziness, it still wasn’t as original of an idea or movie that I had hoped for. Give it about a month and no one will be talking about ‘Bullet Train’ unless it’s to spite me on a podcast.
VERDICT: 3 out of 5 Stars.
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