Director David Leitch has been an impactful action director since his first officially credited film Atomic Blonde (2017), and his involvement prior with John Wick (2014). Deadpool 2 (2018) proved he’s able to blend humor and action with impactful visuals quite well. While Fast & The Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019) weren’t quite as good as his other films, his new feature Bullet Train (2022) bursts into August with an incredible cast, a twisting story, and awesome action.
Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is an assassin who is slowly returning to his job with what’s supposed to be a simple snatch and grab. His target is on a high-speed bullet train, and this task shouldn’t require him to be on it for more than a single stop – but he’s not the only one interested in his target. Ladybug believes he is cursed with bad luck, and four other assassins seem to want to prove that curse true.
The marketing for Bullet Train failed to convey the complexity of the plot. While the present-day elements of the film almost exclusively take place on the train, there are several backstories told through flashbacks. The variety of characters and why they are currently on that train is the great connective tissue between the action set pieces Leitch develops. There are a lot of tight hand-to-hand combat scenes that Leitch has demonstrated he excels at – but the big, bombastic, special-effects-driven sequences also are quite impressive. Yet, the action alone wouldn’t make this movie great – but the characters truly do.
Pitt is in the zone with the quirky Ladybug character. However, Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) were my favorite aspects of this movie. Not to take away from Joey King, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, or Bad Bunny – I’m not even going to attempt to list all of the actors, as I had no idea who all was going to be in this movie – as they each bring something special to this film. But Tangerine and Lemon, their back story -and, most importantly, their relationship – is just incredible. Lemon’s obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine is one of the most interesting character traits I can remember in an action film in some time.
I had an absolute blast watching Bullet Train. If people don’t see this, it’ll be because of the marketing not selling the sheer spectacle and story that the film is bringing to the screen. This cast put in the work, and the end product conveys this. Leitch and screenwriter Zak Olkewicz (side note…this is adapted from a novel by Kôtarô Isaka) brought something special to an often dry summer movie month. Go see Bullet Train, as, to me, it is a Must See film.