Based on the best-selling novel known as “Mariabeetle” from Kōtarō Isaka (now called “Bullet Train”), multiple shady characters board one of the famous hayate transports with devious intentions unaware of how each of their objectives is intertwined like a spiderweb traveling 200 miles per hour to Kyoto.
Director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) knows one thing above all else and that is how to execute and film awesome stunts. Bullet Train plays to that strength amazingly as a film that takes maybe two breaths in its two-plus hour joyride. Movies in a less skilled hand than his tend to fall apart when trying to be too many genres, but Leitch and his team expertly blend action, thrills, comedy, drama, and a dash of horror in a way that I can’t compare to anything else I have seen.
However, establishing a director can only make a film as well as the actors can deliver on performance, this is the very rare occasion where every member of the cast feels perfectly suited to their role. Brad Pitt is somehow the goofiest character he has ever played and still comes off incredibly believable as an operative while Joey King (The Act) was shockingly dynamic and terrifying in her portrayal as The Prince…ironically a month after playing the titular role in The Princess. Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta) was incredibly likeable while maintaining a tough guy feel and Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine) could read the phonebook for two hours and make it captivating, though an immature piece of me wished his codename was Scorpion. Speaking of codenames, the only main character to not have one allowed Andrew Koji (Warrior) to flex his acting chops beyond his normal martial arts expertise as the remorseful father seeking revenge and although there are many more actors deserving kudos here, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass) was an absolute force of nature throughout as he commands every scene he was a part of. After seeing this film, it is easy to see how this performance allegedly got him the role of Kraven the Hunter in Sony’s Spider-verse.
David Scheunemann and his team need a standing ovation for the production design on Bullet Train since almost the entire film takes place in train cars that may be twelve feet wide. Their hard work with visual styling, design, and shooting angles made me feel as if the tight quarters made the train itself was its own universe.
The question I asked immediately after the credits ended was, “Did this feel like a John Wick movie done by Quentin Tarantino?” which is high praise in my book. Quite simply, this movie hits on every level and makes both of those clauses absolutely true.