#REVIEW: “BULLET TRAIN”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is an Assassin trying his hand at Pacifism after a few too many bad experiences. His job this time is simple enough – retrieve a briefcase from a bullet train and get off the train. Simple enough, right? Wrong. Seems like there are other assassins on the train, and they all have different objectives, agendas and connections to one another.
And of course, they all want to kill each other.
If that sounds like your idea of a good time at the Movies, you will have a blast watching BULLET TRAIN. Director and former Stuntman David Leitch injects a whole lot of style into the proceedings, and does his very best to stage the action and fight sequences with as few edits as possible. No, I do not think Brad Pitt is getting tossed around and/or getting the snot beaten out of him the entire time, but when the fights are so muddled and frantically cut up in so many modern American Action Films, you take notice when you can actually see at least some of the Choreography at play. Leitch takes advantage of the tight quarters of each train car and does a terrific job amplifying the carnage these characters inflict on each other. It is a whole lot more viciously violent and gruesome than I was expecting, yet the tongue-in-cheek humour does a great job offsetting it.
The Cast does a great job delivering that humour and while they cannot make the story any more coherent, they all seem to be having the time of their lives breathing life into these over-the-top Characters. Pitt is a riot from start to finish, keenly-aware of the manic tone the Film manages to preserve. Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (who looks hotter than ever) are great as a pair of “twins” that continue to cause Pitt headaches, and Joey King is downright devious as the manipulative “Prince” that literally everyone underestimates. There are some small bit part turns from multiple other Actors you will definitely recognize (along with at least two Cameos you will not see coming), and Sandra Bullock delights in her voiceover-heavy role.
All of that said, BULLET TRAIN suffers from how bogged-down and lengthy it becomes from all of the flashbacks and exposition. Nearly every Character gets to tell some form of tale about what happened prior to their getting on the train, and the Film seems to revel in the stylistic flourishes Leitch and his team bring to each flashback. Because so many of the Characters have connections to each other, the Film has a nasty habit of replaying certain moments in different ways (or just reusing the same moment multiple times). It gets a bit exhausting in some sections and bears more than just a slight resemblance to the nearly forgotten Smokin’ Aces, another style-heavy Assassin picture. Even worse is the CGI, which is nowhere near as fine-tuned as it should be and outright awkward in some sequences. I do not want to lay blame strictly at the feet of the VFX Artists – as the sheer backlog of Hollywood projects and horror stories we keep hearing about are plenty of reason not to – but it is still worth noting because of how unrefined so much of it looks.
BULLET TRAIN is an enjoyable enough way to pass the time in these Dog Days of Summer. The Cast is great, the fight scenes are well shot and choreographed and the humour is deliciously tongue-in-cheek. It is way too long though and far too flashback heavy. With another pass or three editing wise and more polished effects, it could have been so much more than just enjoyable.
Sony Pictures Canada release BULLET TRAIN on Friday, August 5, 2022.