Ladybug is a freelance “snatch and grab” man who has extraordinary bad luck in Bullet Train. But after going away and reassessing his life, he finds himself re-energized and ready to get back in the game.
He accepts a new job from his handler Maria. Ladybug is to get on a bullet train in Japan and steal a briefcase. It seems simple enough.
But as the train departs the station, Ladybug’s bad luck returns. He discovers that he’s not the only professional on the train. Along for the ride are Tangerine and Lemon, two men tasked with retrieving the rebellious son of a notorious Japanese gangster by the name of White Death.
Also on the train is a deadly assassin by the nickname Prince. She intends to blackmail the son of another gangster to do her bidding. And those are just the ones on the train that are known.
Ladybug steals the briefcase and attempts to depart the train, but he finds himself confronted by yet another gangster known as Wolf. As Ladybug tries to figure out why he’s being attacked, it quickly becomes apparent that someone behind the scenes is manipulating all of the assassins and thieves.
But will any of them survive long enough to discover who it is and why?
Bullet Train is pretty much as advertised. It’s funny, action packed, and an entertaining ride. It features a lot of laughs as the characters face off with each other in comical ways. The dialogue is witty and funny and Brad Pitt‘s interaction with each of the assassins brings plenty of laughs.
The action is a lot of fun, which isn’t surprising considering director David Leitch‘s background in stunts. Each fight has a Jackie Chan feel to it as the combatants use random props on the train in battle, injure each other comically, and generally destroy everything in their paths. You could say it’s more inspired by Looney Tunes than serious action fare.
Brad Pitt leads the cast as Ladybug. He feels like he’s having a lot of fun in this role and that carries over to the audience. Pitt handles the action and comedy with equal capability.
Supporting him are Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Tangerine and Brian Tyree Henry as Lemon. The two have a running gag that they are twins, but they have other quirks as well. Lemon constantly refers to Thomas the Tank Engine while Tangerine revels in his look and fashion.
But it’s the cameos by other actors that get more attention. If someone has been in a movie with Brad Pitt in the last four years, they have a cameo in this film. Look for Sandra Bullock, Zazie Beetz, and other surprises along the way.
Bullet Train is a lot of fun but it is all over the place in tone. Despite the overall comedic theme, it goes long stretches without laughs and even has long dramatic moments. It also tries a little too hard to be hip. There is frenetic editing, numerous montages, and enough flashbacks to give you whiplash.
The non-linear storytelling is a little much at times and you often wish the narrative would get back to Ladybug’s central story. The multiple flashbacks also drag out the film and make it about a half hour longer than it feels like it needs to be. At over two hours, it somewhat overstays its welcome.
Another odd feature – there are actually very few Japanese characters in this movie set in Japan. Hiroyuki Sanada and Andrew Koji are the lone exceptions. It’s like a western set in Texas with only Asian characters in it. It doesn’t make sense.
Oddly enough, even a bit part of a lady that shushes Ladybug is a Caucasian woman, not a Japanese woman. An elderly Japanese woman chewing out Ladybug could have been a lot of fun and perfectly in the setting of the film, but they opted not to go this route. I don’t understand the casting decision.
If you want a fun action comedy, then Bullet Train will definitely fit the bill. My wife and I saw this as a date night movie and we both enjoyed it although she punched me in the arm at each gory death of a character.
BULLET TRAIN MOVIE REVIEW: 6.5 OUT OF 10
Now playing in theaters, Sony Pictures‘ Bullet Train is rated R for strong and bloody violence, pervasive language, and brief sexuality.