Bullet Train review – not really a first class ticket


It would be rude to deny High-speed trains goofy charm and expertly choreographed action pieces. But much of it depends on Pitt’s engaging central performance to hold his interest whenever his chaotically over-the-top, brash, chappy, sub-Guy Ritchie approach threatens to do too much. And yes, it turns out that there is such a thing as under-Guy Ritchie.

Pitt plays one of many professional killers who board a train from Tokyo to Kyoto and slowly realize that their individual missions are linked, for no one’s benefit. English “twins” Lemon and Tangerine (Brian Tyree Henry, Aaron Taylor-Johnson) return the kidnapped son of the infamous White Death gang leader, along with the ransom money, to his father; Kimura (Andrew Koji) thinks he’s about to kill the person who threw his own little son off a roof; Prince (Joey King), a seemingly innocent schoolgirl, has a convoluted plan to kill the White Death; The wolf wants revenge and the hornet has a target for assassination; and Pitt’s Ladybug (shown below with Taylor-Johnson), back on duty after a crisis of confidence and eager, still, not to kill anyone, thinks he has a simple snatch and catches.

As the train accelerates, these killers lock horns in a variety of deadly combinations. Add in a highly poisonous snake that’s on the loose and Yakuza waiting at each of the station stops, and there’s plenty to go on. Nevertheless, director David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2) and writer Zak Olkewicz (adapting Kôtôra Isaka’s pulp fiction book) thrive on ever-increasing detail, explanation, and convolution – whether it’s flashbacks and captions, or the kind of easy character mannerisms and running jokes that Ritchie himself borrowed from Tarantino, the effect naturally becoming more stale each time. Here it’s Lemon’s infatuation with (of all things) Thomas the Tank Engine, his bible for reading people’s characters, and Ladybug’s obsession with mindfulness techniques, that even Pitt can’t make fun of. , say, a dozen times.

The Japanese setting is sorely underutilized, both visually and thematically (Tarantino has achieved so much more with Kill Bill) just like the too rare Japanese actors: it would have been surprising to see Pitt face off in a more meaningful confrontation with the great Hiroyuki Sanada, or if the Japanese-American Karen Fukuhara (Amazon Prime’s The boys) had received more than a fleeting cameo.

And yet the cast as a whole brings wacky panache to the proceedings, their delivery making up for the lameness of much of the script: in particular Taylor Johnson and Henry, alongside Pitt, who has fun as Ladybug no so unfortunate, its sun hat and specs belying the serious chops in the hand-to-hand combat department. Meanwhile, Leitch has fun with some of his needle punches (“Stayin’ Alive,” “Holding Out for a Hero”) and his proven knack for fight scenes that combine jaw-dropping choreography with… ironic invention is what gives High-speed train his momentum – most involving Ladybug, whose luck isn’t half as bad as he thinks, and who demonstrates a knack for turning any object into a weapon that would send Jason Bourne back to school. ‘spying.


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