While “Bullet Train” is a colorful movie with interesting shots, it falls flat in nearly every other aspect; and this hits the audience like a runaway train.
The movie, directed by David Leitch and written by Zak Olkewicz, stars Brad Pitt as the retired assassin only known as “Ladybug,” a decidedly mild-mannered killer. The film features an ensemble cast as well including Aaron Taylor Johnson of both “Avengers” and “Godzilla” fame, rapper Bad Bunny, former child star Joey King, Logan Lerman of “Percy Jackson” fame, and renowned actress Sandra Bullock. The story features an almost Agatha Christie-level of twists and turns that are easily spoiled by any discussion of the plot.
As mentioned, the film is incredibly colorful. This color primarily comes from the scenery outside the titular bullet train where all these assassins are crossing paths. Granted, there are some breathtaking instances of cinematography and fight choreography, particularly when Brad Pitt and Bad Bunny spar, but these moments can shake the fact that the film doesn’t do what other insular movies do well. Other insular movies have considerably developed plots that don’t feel like they are thrown together in an afternoon.
The film is almost cartoonish in scope. It seems like every minute we find a new ridiculous plot point uncovered that doesn’t seem like it’s at all related to anything else going on. The writing is also especially weak which is kind of tragic given the acting talent packed into this trainwreck of a movie. This movie is essentially the “fast food” of films: bad, saturated, and too expensive. If I were comparing this movie to a specific fast food chain, I’d say Arby’s.
The film mistakes itself for the likes of Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie, but this fallibility is only underscored by the numerous references to those directors. It’s almost as if Leitch views them as idols but to the point that he has no direction ideas of his own. This trend in direction, where everything is an homage or a reference is akin to what one might find in old parody movies such as “Scary Movie” or “Vampires Suck.” It’s just lazy and it shows that Leitch is simply an inferior director than his colleagues.
Although the fight choreography tends to be quite good, the actual stunts with props and sets are completely lackluster. Again, Leitch is clearly inspired by the likes of Jackie Chan, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd, but the way these homages are placed in the sequence of events is just dull and uninspired. The film happens out like a piecemeal mix of a hundred different films, or if we’re leaning into the fast food metaphor once again, like the roast beef at Arby’s.
The film is flashy, and I imagine many went in to the theatre expecting to be wowed with comedy and action like something in the MCU. Unfortunately, the reality is much more sour than that. “Bullet Train” receives an F rating.