Shawn O’Brate

All aboard! This past weekend one of the most anticipated action flicks of the year finally hit the big screen, bringing nothing but A-list actors and brainless action to the Gem Theater where audiences have been subjected to blood and gore, comedy and laughter, and handsome actors all year–but not like this. 

The new movie, Bullet Train, is a fast-paced, fun-filled thrill ride that brings more than just knife fights, fisticuffs, and guns galore. It brings some twists here and there, and it brings nothing but the best, most recognizable actors to the screen to pull off one of the more fun movies this Summer. 

Although Summer is typically the time where these types of high-powered action movies are released, there’s a lot different with this new film than some of the previous movies that may fall into the same category. Movies like John Wick, Fast & Furious and Mission: Impossible all have their traits that make them different, but where those fall to Bullet Train is the pure, joyful fun that Brad Pitt (World War Z, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Inglorious Bastards) brings to the stage with his character. 

Pitt plays an assassin, codename: Ladybug, filling in for an anonymous killer named Carver on an ‘easy’ snatch-and-grab mission on a bullet train in Tokyo. What makes Ladybug such an enjoyable character is his almost-brainless attempt at trying to do his job–killing people–without conflict, due to his newfound therapy sessions and mindset that revolves around subverting fighting for a more peaceful resolution.

Well, that’s not how the rest of the assassins on the train feel. That’s right, Ladybug is not alone on the train and he’s not the only one looking for the briefcase, but when he finds it rather early in the film that’s when the fun truly begins.

Assassins with codenames are scattered across the train from first class all the way back to economy, all with different tasks and different roles but all ending in the same place: Kyoto station. 

Every other assassin is a recognizable actor or actress and makes every scene enjoyable through their majorly contrasting character arcs that are given through flashbacks and fun cameos. Assassins like Lemon and Tangerine, played by Brian Tyree Henry (Eternals, Atlanta) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla, TENET, Avengers: Age of Ultron), who are ‘brothers’ that have rescued a young, heavily-tattooed Russian son of a notorious crime boss in Japan. 

The boy, played by Logan Lerman (FURY, Amazon’s ‘Hunters’, Percy Jackson & the Olympians), is being returned to his mass-killing father under suspicious terms along with the money in the briefcase that Ladybug is sent to retrieve from a mysterious female handler. But when the boy is mysteriously killed and begins bleeding from every orifice on his face the two brothers start to search the train for whoever ruined their job. 

Fast forward to the multiple other assassins that find their way between Pitt and the brothers, assassins like ‘The Wolf’, played by multi-grammy winning artist Bad Bunny, or ‘The Hornet’ played by Zazie Beets (Joker, Atlanta, Deadpool 2)

These are just a few of the wildly popular and famous names that grace the screen in this movie, all in the hopes of keeping the briefcase full of money to themselves for their own reasons. Backstabbing, hidden messages, secret passengers and more all help the movie roll along as the stops between Tokyo and Kyoto all involve gratuitous violence, surprises, and laughter from Ladybug’s ‘bad luck’ that ends multiple lives without him wanting to do so. 

You’ll refuse to leave your seat in the Gem Theater because from the very start of the movie there is enough action, blood, and gore to keep every action fan in their chairs. And there are so many split-second cameos that you’ll regret that large drink when you come back and find out somebody like Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Hitman’s Bodyguard) or Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, The Lost City) found their way into this star-studded cast. And those are just two of the many that only share the screen with this ensemble for a brief scene or two, I won’t spoil the others for you. 

Last, but definitely not least, the music in this film is like nothing you’ve experienced before. With so many of your favorite disco hits, rock ballads, and more all transcribed and sung in Japanese and played sparingly-but-well throughout fight scenes, flashbacks, and cut-aways. 

This movie doesn’t need a love interest, the action and the laughter are enough to fill the two hour runtime but the familial tug on the heartstrings happens with the young girl, Prince, played by Joey King (The Act, The Conjuring) who is a sadistic maniac–much like the rest of the cast. With that being said, the major ‘twist’ at the end became somewhat apparent rather early in the movie but with the ending that played out there are plenty more surprises that take place. 

Bullet Train is definitely more fun in theaters, especially with the sound-mixing, the action scenes, the explosions and the bombshells so be sure to finish your Summer with a BANG and see it sometime this week before the kids go back to school. 

Also, expect plenty of spin-offs and possible sequels with the way that director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw) left the film and introduced so many different assassins from so many different walks of life.

Overall score: 4.5 / 5 Thomas the Tank engines