Spoilers will take the bus.
Sometimes it’s better to lower your expectations. I thought this was just going to be a throwaway action comedy. And to be honest, it does fit that genre but it did manage to keep my attention throughout. Now, there’s nothing particularly redeeming about it. You do get simply everyone playing up to stereotypical hitmen over-the-top extravaganza. Then again, perhaps I needed that and I was just in the frame of mind for this one. Bring it on.
Bullet Train (2022) is directed by David Leitch with the screenplay written by Zac Olkewicz. The story is based on the novel “Maria Beetle” by Kôtarô Isaka. Former assassin Ladybug (Brad Pitt) has been hired to board the bullet train headed for Tokyo and retrieve a specific suitcase. The suitcase has been taken by obviously-non-identical twin brotherly hitmen duo Lemon (Bryan Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who are working for the White Death (Michael Shannon), a Russian Gangster that has taken over a Yakuza group and are bringing his son back to him. Also in the train is assassin Yuichi Kimura / The Father (Andrew Koji) who seeks revenge for his young son, Wataru. Also in the train is the person who was pushed Wataru off a roof, The Prince (Joey King), a young girl that plays up her innocence but wants to slay the White Death.
The first problem I ran into is how a few people tend to be defined by parentage here. There are two, almost three, different sets of sons and fathers, lending itself to confusion. Either for aesthetics or for effect everyone has a title here. We have a character labelled as The Son (Logan Lerman) as he’s the son of the White Death. He has nothing to do with The Father, Yuichi Kimura, who is actually the son of The Elder (Hiroyuki Sanada). As way of character development, we get flashbacks revealing the possible motivations that these characters have to antagonize each other.
Despite the extended flashbacks, the Tarantino-esque dialog does a good work of setting up a dynamic between each character as well as giving strange quirks to each assassin. Ladybug is a zen-chasing peace-loving accidental hitman. Lemon and Tangerine are constantly bickering while Lemon has a life philosophy based on a children’s show (Thomas the Tank Engine). The rest of the cast seem to have a personal vendetta to settle. It does work enough to satisfy the action flick aficionados, as long as you don’t look for plot holes too close. Eventually we do get the big climatic showdown at the end, which is at least satisfying enough to wrap it all up with explosions and bloodshed.
Recommended for action aficionados. It’s pure entertainment value with comic-like action violence and the quirky comedy dialog. In the end, as long as you don’t ask too much of the plot it’s a genre film that follows the typical format. Logic does not enter the equation, but it was animated enough that I wanted to see it through. Worth a watch when you’re hungry for some action comedy hijinks when you feel like turning your brain off and making some popcorn.
That will do for now.