It’s the beginning of August, summer continues to roll on, and that means we are still very much entrenched in blockbuster season. Following on from the likes of Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion, Thor: Love and Thunder, and DC League of Super-Pets, new tentpole movies keep on coming, and this week it is the turn of high-octane action-comedy, Bullet Train.
Directed by David Leitch (Deadpool 2, Hobbs & Shaw), and based on the Japanese novel Maria Beetle by Kōtarō Isaka, the movie follows the story of an assassin, who boards a high-speed train in Tokyo, in search of a valuable briefcase. The movie stars Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Joey King, Brian Tyree-Henry, and Sandra Bullock, and is new to UK cinemas from today (Friday in the US).
In the movie, Pitt plays the role of Ladybug – an expert mercenary, who is hired for a new assignment. The job is to retrieve a briefcase stuffed with cash, which is located somewhere on a bullet train.
After stepping onto the train, Ladybug quickly finds the case and remains onboard until he can depart at the next stop. However, as he soon discovers, there are other assassins on the train (Taylor-Johnson, Tyree-Henry, King, etc), and each has a connection to the case, as well as each other.
As the train zooms down the track, Ladybug soon finds himself coming face-to-face with all the assassins, and they don’t want him to disembark. This leads to a hectic standoff, with guns popping, fists flying, and a rogue poisonous snake thrown into the mix… because why not?!
Now, before I get down to the nitty gritty, I want to say that out of all the big-budget blockbusters that have been advertised this summer, the one I’ve seen advertised the most is Bullet Train. I go to the cinema a lot, and it is the movie that is constantly trailed in front of every film.
Somebody, somewhere, really wants this movie to be a success. And do you know what? I hope they achieve their goal.
However, as far as I am concerned, I hope I never seen the trailer again. I also hope I don’t see the movie again either.
While some people may enjoy Bullet Train, I did not. With the exception of around five minutes of the film (taken from here and there), I found Bullet Train to be a headache-inducing slog.
I was bored after 20-minutes, and I was more than ready to check-out after 30. Had I been a passenger on the train in this movie, I would have pulled the emergency brake, and would have happily thrown myself from my carriage – without opening the window.
Although, if I’m being honest, I can’t imagine being a passenger on this train, because apparently, if you’re a passenger in Bullet Train, you turn a blind eye to all the violence, death and destruction that takes place around you. It doesn’t matter what’s going on, or how loud or disruptive a bunch of assassins are being, you simply become oblivious to the whole thing.
But how anyone could ignore what’s going on is beyond me. Between all the crashes, the bangs, and the escaped snake(!!), someone would surely suggest halting this journey.
But no, apparently not. So, before I go any further, let me award Bullet Train the unique distinction of winning the accolade for ‘The Most Preposterous Train Journey in the History of Train Journeys’.
Yes, I have travelled with Northern Rail, but believe me, the preposterous train journey in Bullet Train beats that by a country mile. And yet, oddly, being preposterous is the least of Bullet Train’s problems.
In fact, I can handle utter nonsense; just look at my positive reviews for Ambulance or Moonfall as examples! My issue with Bullet Train is that it’s too hectic, too loud, and far too up its own arse to see that it is simply not very good.
The movie exudes an overconfidence that it really shouldn’t have. It shouldn’t have this confidence because it is largely a pile of old tosh.
Bullet Train feels very derivative; like it has been constructed from the leftover parts of other movies. Some elements have been lifted from the Kill Bill films, while Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s cockney accent in particular (which is almost a character itself), seems to have been swiped from Snatch.
Meanwhile the tone and humour seem to be ripped directly from the Deadpool films. In fact, this entire picture feels like a Deadpool movie, only one which is in a desperate need of Ryan Reynolds.
Laugh? I did. Once.
No, tell a lie, I laughed three times. Four at a push.
This miniscule bit of merriment came via a genuinely funny cameo appearance, which takes place halfway through the movie. If you watch Bullet Train (and obviously I don’t recommend you do), then you’ll know the cameo once you come to it.
To give you a clue: It’ll be the part of the movie where you actually laugh. If you don’t let out even a little bit of noise, then know this: You’ve not reached the cameo yet – you’ll need to keep going.
The cameo is the part of the film that seemed to mildly stir the audience during my screening, which is good, as it let me know that everyone in the auditorium was still alive. The only other time anyone made any noise during the course of Bullet Train was when someone got up to go to the bathroom.
Normally I discourage any chatter or movement during a screening, but as no one seemed to be laughing during this ‘action-comedy’, I did wonder if everyone was OK. I can only presume half the audience fell asleep during the course of the movie, while the other half simply gave up the will to live.
Although how anyone could fall asleep during the course of the film is another mystery. At times, Bullet Train is VERY LOUD – specifically toward the climax.
On a more positive note, the film does boast a decent cast, and if you simply want to see a bunch of well-known actors wander up and down a train, throwing things at each other, you most certainly get that here. Although, I didn’t have a clue what Brad Pitt was saying for the first third of the movie, as he mumbled his way through almost every scene.
I imagine this is because he knew he couldn’t compete with Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Cockney accent. That thing would give Dick Van Dyke’s mock-ney voice from Mary Poppins a run for its money, and no mistake!
Either way, the film has a good cast, and despite the mumbles from Pitt, he is good in the film and one of Bullet Train’s strengths. Pitt has a certain likeability, which he displays in almost all of his performances, and it comes to the forefront here.
But even with this positive element from Pitt, it simply doesn’t brush off my general dislike for Bullet Train. I found the whole thing irritating, and it left me disappointed, disinterested, and overwhelmingly dissatisfied.
As mentioned above, I do like daft movies, which is why I gave films such as Ambulance and Moonfall a pass earlier in the year, but I simply can’t do that with Bullet Train. At the very least, those films were fun, but this one isn’t.
I found no enjoyment in watching Bullet Train. It failed to grab my attention when it counted, and annoyed me for the vast majority of its running time.
I do appreciate that others will have a completely different experience to me, as the film does have all the components to make something halfway decent; but as far as I can see, it just doesn’t work. It’s a no from me and nothing more.