2022 is not a good year for Hollywood in the action thriller genre. As The Gray Man flopped at the box office, it could be said the seriousness of this genre isn't quite working out for the audience.
David Leitch, director of Deadpool 2, introduced a new form of action comedy, Bullet Train. This film is an adaptation of the 2010 dark comedic thriller novel Maria Beetle by Japanese author Kōtarō Isaka. Action comedy in the Japanese setting is surely a breath of fresh air in this monotonous genre.
Brad Pitt is the face of this film, who plays the lead character of Ladybug, an American assassin who had a series of bad luck and came back to the job after a hiatus. He is tasked by his handler Maria Beetle (played by Sandra Bullock) to do a simple collection job on a bullet train in Japan.
Turns out the job is not so simple, as the train is full of assassins set to thwart Ladybug's mission. The simple mission turns into a series of fights for Ladybug, which includes a lot of stabbing, martial arts, and poison. Can he finally collect the 10 million dollars in the briefcase as the collection after all of these? The ending has the answer.
The fight scenes are diverse and have a Tarantino's Kill Bill vibe to them. The makers did not hesitate to take inspiration from the Tarantino-esque violence. The characters do not stay on-screen for enough time. They get in and out of the screen for their purposes, which looks chaotic. In other words, Bullet Train lacks a consistent story and the fight scenes, it's a mess out there.
Brad Pitt might be the only person who is carrying the entire film on his shoulders. He is seen as a macho man in action movies. In Bullet Train, he shows that he can be goofy too. His portrayal of Ladybug is of a guy with bad luck who tries to do his job but reluctantly chooses violence to get it done and doesn't shy away from it.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry's roles as Tangerine and Lemon are a fun duo to watch, often doing playful banter even though they can be pretty violent if needed. Lemon's one characteristic is too absurd to be adapted from the original source; he idolises Thomas the Tank Engine, a character from the kids' show.
Bullet Train is a fun film to watch if someone wants to see a different type of action movie that involves assassins fighting each other inside a claustrophobic space on a bullet train in a vibrantly colourful Tokyo. If you are looking to watch an action movie full of brutal fights and humour with no concern for a good story, this might be for you.