Bullet train (United States/2022). Address: David Lech. Script: Zak Olkewicz, based on a novel by Kotaro Isaka. Photography: Jonathan Sela. Song: Dominic Lewis. edition: Elizabeth Ronaldsdottir. Ready: Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Joey King, Bad Bunny. duration: 126 minutes. distributor: IPU/Sony. Qualification: Suitable for over 16 years. Our opinion: Okay
Bullet train it’s the kind of movie that must have been more fun to make than it was to watch. As the narrative builds up scene after scene of witty dialogue, choreographed fights, and increasingly eccentric characters, the viewer can imagine director David Leitch (Deadpool 2), explaining to the producers how entertaining it will be to put Brad Pitt on the famous Japanese train of the title and watch him face off against ruthless killers, a persistent ticket controller, the booze cart and a snake. Yes, this action comedy includes all that and much more. The formula plays on excess in every area: the setting and costumes are bursting with garish colors, neon sets the tone, and the different accents stack to form the opposite of a tower of Babel. Maximalism is intentional and yet that does not mean that it turns out as its creators surely intended.
Buoyed by superhero movies, based on a novel by prolific Japanese author Kotaro Isaka and borrowing some of the spirit of Quentin Tarantino’s scripts, the pacing Guy Ritchie films sometimes achieve and the air of unreality of the saga of john wick, Bullet train It has characters with bad intentions but the physical resistance and occasional humor of Iron Man or Deadpool, and from the beginning it is concerned with communicating that nothing that will be seen on screen is to be taken seriously. A dangerous double-edged premise: if the persecution of a Russian mobster called White Death who controls the Japanese underworld and likes to assassinate his rivals with his own weapons does not scare his victims and the boy in a coma for having been thrown from a terrace is just a trigger for other much less traumatic parts of the plot, so nothing that happens really matters. Nihilism is not always the best recipe for comedy. Although it can be if treated in moderation, a foreign word in the dictionary of Bullet train.
The unifying thread of the story is the character of Pitt, a hired assassin who is nicknamed Ladybug by his coordinator (San Antonio vaquita), an irony given the bad luck that he claims follows him everywhere. His latest mission is simple: get on the train in Tokyo, steal a briefcase and get off in Kyoto. Of course, from the beginning it is known that the job will be anything but easy and that the hitman’s attempts to adopt a more Zen way of life will be buried under tons of bullets, kicks, knives and some ingestion of poison. Entangled in a plot of various revenges, multiple family conflicts and the over-hiring of sociopaths with hearts of gold, Ladybug manages to capture the viewer’s attention from the first to the last scene thanks to the performance of Pitt who seems more than willing to laugh at her. status as an Oscar-winning actor, heartthrob and action hero. With life experience as his deadliest weapon – something the film also borrowed from Keanu Reeves’ character in john wick of which Leitch is one of its producers-, Pitt brings charisma and humor in each appearance.
With a real talent for directing action scenes, Leitch stumbles as he piles explanations, flashbacks and winks around the circus of creatures that revolves around the protagonist. Whether it’s the assassin duo who go by the nicknames Limón (Brian Tyree Henry) and Mandarina (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), the Mexican mobster Lobo, played by musician Bad Bunny, the deceptively sweet teenager in charge of Joey King and even a water bottle essential? for the story, they all have scenes to show off and to a large extent they do. However, the more time the film devotes to them, the less it focuses on the one character who remains an enigma throughout the film: Ladybug.
As the plot progresses and the Japanese imagery stops surprising to become a cliché that borders on the stereotype, the script seems to forget its best card in its eagerness to include the appearance of several familiar faces that, although they provide genuinely funny moments, also disperse the viewer’s attention. And perhaps that was the intention of its filmmakers, to accumulate as many visual stimuli, ideas and characters as to fill all the cars of this train that is in great need of an emergency brake.