Bullet Train (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

Five assassins aboard a swiftly-moving bullet train to find out that their missions have something in common.

October 17, 2022 10 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Color me surprised as Bullet Train, while not perfect, it is still a perfectly fun ride that is filled with colorful characters with them all having their moment to shine. It is already one I look forward to viewing again. It was delayed a few times, and I will admit that the countless trailers and social media spots somehow rubbed me the wrong way, but it was quite a surprise. This is a train you’ll want to board. In fact, most audiences will know exactly if this is their type of film or not from the earliest moments.

Let’s start with the main star of the film and that is Brad Pitt. He plays an unlucky assassin, who is given the nickname Ladybug. His boss (voiced by Sandra Bullock) talks him through things, such as the task at hand, and trying to keep him calm. There’s a lot to unpack here as the film features more than a handful of characters, with that sort of fast-talking dialogue that’s as fast as the bullet train itself. In fact, the film may bring memories of Tarantino and Guy Ritchie, but I found this one a cut above most. The film is full of characters with monikers. We have characters here named Lemon and Tangerine and the fearful White Death. Ladybug’s mission is simple: He is to obtain a briefcase and simply get off the train. Of course, things aren’t that simple. I would need a lot more time than I am willing to commit to discuss the various other characters and their motives, but that is a redundant task. Also, seeing the film unfold for yourself is part of the fun. A couple of the highlights include Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Lemon and tangerine. They are two assassins who are basically brothers and bicker back and forth and Lemon constantly uses Thomas the Tank Engine as a reference for people’s behavior and labeling their personality based off the show. It’s great stuff. Seeing their simple mission derail is one of the film’s many joys. I can’t forget about Joey King as the Prince though she is in fact a girl. She uses her innocent stature to try and get the upper hand on anyone who gets in her way. There’s much more here to unravel, but again, seeing it unfold is the fun part.

What I found most refreshing here is that the film is in on the jock, but despite the multiple characters and plot threads, it brings them all together very nicely. I could think of how this would’ve fallen apart in lesser hands. Memories of the awful Smokin’ Aces comes to mind. The film is filled with action and humor and is indeed more than a little strange, but it’s also very accessible to a large audience. The pacing is breakneck nearly the entire way, only slowing down occasionally. This all builds toward a hectic climax, and if it feels the destination was all a bit too slight, getting there was the fun part. It’s a wild and crazy ride with plenty of action and laughs, all led by an overly committed cast.

Video: How’s it look?

There are only a handful of scenes that take place outside the train, and those are either at night or in a dimly-lit train station. But hey, you know what? That’s the beauty of having a 4K disc with HDR that takes some of those low light shots and makes them appear rock solid! Bullet Train is presented in a 2.39:1 HEVC 4K image that’s darn near perfect. And why wouldn’t it be? Sony’s 4K discs are arguably the best out there and this one never really seemed challenged. The neon overhead light makes for some harsh flesh tones (it even gives Brat Pitt the appearance of looking older than he is), but those are few and far between. I found this to be a bit stylized, but ultimately very natural-looking image. Detail is razor sharp and the LCD projections that are supposed to be Japan look, well, hey they fooled me. No complaints here.

Audio: How’s it sound?

We get a well-rounded Dolby Atmos mix that’s sure to please even the harshest critic. Several songs are played throughout, but the lion’s share of the action comes from fights, gunfire and, well, a train crash. Vocals are on par with what I’d expected, though we’ve got a few American actors trying to do their best British accents. They sounded fine to me, but I’m sure there’s bound to be criticism. The surrounds and height speakers do get a workout with some of the non-stop action that ensured in the film. LFE are pretty prevalent, too. Let’s face it: every “thud”, “bump” and everything in between sounds top notch.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Disc one (4K)

  • Audio Commentary – David Leitch, Kelly McCormick & Zak Olkewicz combine for a pretty interesting track. It’s chock full of tidbits from the set, working with Brad Pitt and the ensemble cast as well as the “challenge” of shooting on a train…in a studio in Los Angeles.

Disc Two (Blu-ray)

  • Mission Accomplished: Making of Bullet Train– Director David Leitch gives us the genesis of the story as well as regales us with his personal journey through films (first as a stuntman, then a stunt coordinator then transitioning into directing). It’s a short, yet informative piece.
  • All Aboard the Pain Train: Stunts – Basically…just that. We get some insight into the planning and choreography that went into some of the key action sequences and who better to take direction from that a director who started out a stunt man?
  • Outtakes & Bloopers – Three minutes of outtakes so hilarious you’ll…want to watch them once (and then never again).
  • Trained Professionals: The Cast – Various (and oddly specific) members of the cast are profiled and since I didn’t mention it above, you might see a familiar face or two not listed in the ending credits.
  • Catch What You Missed: Easter Eggs – If you didn’t want to be spoiled above, then steer clear of this one (until after the movie, of course). Included are some interesting little tidbits about random (and not so random) things here and there. You know – easter eggs.
  • Select Stunt Previs – Included are about 4 minutes’ worth of some rehearsal footage with a window showing the final product. Interesting. Kind of.
  • Bullet Train Goes Off the Rails – A series of promotional spots with “Lemon” and “Tangerine” kissing up to a bunch of NBA players. An odd, yet oddly satisfying experience.
  • Previews – Other Sony titles are profiled, yet not a trailer for this one. That’s bad kharma.
  • Audio Commentary –  David Leitch, Kelly McCormick & Zak Olkewicz combine for a pretty interesting track. It’s chock full of tidbits from the set, working with Brad Pitt and the ensemble cast as well as the “challenge” of shooting on a train…in a studio in Los Angeles.

The Bottom Line

There’s a lot to like about Bullet Train. I know it probably didn’t please the critics as much as the filmmakers hoped, but I enjoyed it. Hell, I laughed out loud on more than one occasion. It delivers. It’s an action comedy much in the vein of the Deadpool films. Fans of that are probably going to enjoy this as well. There are a few celebrity cameos that I didn’t see coming, but for the unspoiled – I’ll leave those as a surprise. Sony’s disc looks and sounds good and has enough extras to warrant a purchase.

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