Plot: What’s it about?
Color me surprised as Bullet Train will likely go down as one of my favorites, if not favorite movie of 2022. I started to say the summer, but looking back at this year, I think it earns the title. 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. This is one of the summer’s highlights and one of the best films I’ve seen in 2022. It turns into a wild and crazy ride with plenty of action and laughs, all led by an overly committed cast.
The Bottom Line
I attended Bullet Train solo as a friend couldn’t make it. That same friend did see the recently released Black Phone with me and he loved that film. He couldn’t stop going on about it. I bring that up because that is how Bullet Train was for me. In short: it’s just a damn good time at the movies. It isn’t only a fun and entertaining ride, but it’s so refreshing because it’s so much better than it had to be. In lesser hands, this could’ve been a mess of a film. Based on a novel, Director David Leitch keeps all his ducks in a row and manages to pull this off. This one comes highly recommended.