Hollywood meets the neon-drenched underbelly of Tokyo in director David Leitch’s latest film, Bullet Train.
Based on Kōtarō Isaka’s best-selling thriller, the film follows Ladybug (Brad Pitt), a low-level criminal who’s recently gotten back into working as a hired contractor to complete simple jobs. There’s just one catch: his luck is terrible. Anything that’s bound to go wrong does. This is precisely what happens when he’s hired to board a Tokyo bullet train to steal a briefcase.
On this mission, he’s not the only player in the game. Four other killers are on the same train: Kimura (Andrew Koji), a father seeking revenge on the person who left his son to die; Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry), a deadly duo; and the Prince (Joey King) a not-so-innocent British schoolgirl who exudes killer tendencies of her own.
Is the presence of these five unique characters on the same bullet train a coincidence? Maybe. Are things bound to get bloody? Absolutely. And as Ladybug soon finds out, fate has other plans in store – plans that have been years in the making.
Bullet Train is a star-studded feature that’s as face-paced as it is quirky and violent, although one would expect nothing less from David Leitch, the director of Deadpool 2 and John Wick. The ensemble cast is a talented group and delivers their scenes with plenty of slapstick humour, wit and charisma. Even though the storyline mainly centers around Pitt, his co-stars hold their own and command the screen when the plot changes timelines and viewpoints. Andrew Koji and Joey King are particular standouts.
The soundtrack is, of course, worth mentioning too. Not only does it incorporate popular hits like The Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive and Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out for a Hero, all of which are remade into a funky, techno, Japanese rendition, but it adds another dimension of ‘grooviness’ to an already crazy-in-a-good-way project. The discourse between the upbeat quirkiness of the music and the blood and guts portrayed during each confrontation makes the piece wildly entertaining.
Naturally, the original plot line is revamped to suit Hollywood’s taste for the over-dramatic. This is especially prominent in the film’s final act, which takes Isaka’s story into its own hands and presents viewers with an epic, over-the-top showdown. As for the depictions of violence, it goes with the genre and direction that Leitch has decided to go with. Everything is stylized. Everything is bizarrely colourful and engaging. And it’s more than refreshing to visit the theatre and submerge yourself in a slice of escapism that isn’t Marvel or another run-of-the-mill action flick. The choppy switchbacks as the truth unfold and the deliciously dark undertones reminiscent of Japanese literature serve as the cherry on top.
All in all, Bullet Train is just FUN. It engages all your senses, whisking you away to Tokyo and never letting you go.
Bullet Train is now playing in theatres
By Kacy Hogg
Kacy is an English Lit student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), Canada. Her favourite films include the Harry Potter series, Cinderella, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hangover, and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95