Bullet Train

Where I Watched It: Netflix

English Audio Description Available?: yes

i remember the unknown I had going into Snowpiercer. it was this film that wasn’t billed as a wide release, from a well-respected foreign director, and it felt like i was part of the beginning of something amazing. i still think Snowpiercer is a terrific film, easily one of my favorites, with an absolute bonkers performance from Tilda Swinton. TNT had to go and ruin the concept by spreading it over a TV show which is fine, but very much not the same quality. When I heard Bullet Train announced, my first thought was…. Snowpiercer.

Of course, that’s not the case, the the gimmick here is different. Instead of a train that can’t stop, or it will freeze, and a referendum on caste systems, Bullet Train is designed to make the guy who directed John Wick look even more stylish. David Leitch has become like the new John Woo, consistent in the action genre, whether producing or directing. When his name is on the project, people learn to expect a certain amount of well choreographed fight sequences.

And that’s what Bullet Train promises and attempts to deliver. It’s a train full of assassins, and the story around that, perhaps is the least interesting thing about this. It’s a fun ride, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something missing here. It’s like the film is so worried about being stylish, or coming up with some bogus new twist on this concept, that it forgets that Leitch built a franchise out of a man getting revenge for the death of his dog. We are literally headed into a fourth film, and when you think about it, if no one had killed his dog, an entire franchise wouldn’t even exist.

So, simplicity probably was the best way to go here, yet the film feels like it’s trying to steal some Tarantino logic, and it ends up losing the core. in fact, I’d go so far as to say that Brad Pitt, who is supposed to be our main guy, was the least interesting thing about this film. The duo played by Aaron Taylor Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry was far more entertaining, and far more compelling than what Pitt was doing. I’d watch a whole franchise with those two, but not another film centered around Pitt’s character.

And a lot of that has to do with the structure of this story, trying really hard to be more complicated and stylish than it needs to be, and that bleeding into these two kinda quirky assassins who are played by two very underrated actors. Did i mention Sandra bullock and Michael Shannon are in this too? The names here are big, but I ended up spending the whole film wishing that Brad Pitt had just been a lie, to get people into the theatre, and that johnson and Henry would end up becoming the center of the film.

I’m sure I’m in some weird minority, but I’m in this place where Bullet Train worked for me, but it also didn’t, and it certainly didn’t in the way it was designed. The audio description has a lot to go off of, since this is an action film, with assassins with fake names, trapped on this train together. And, like I said, when Leitch is involved at all, you can bet on complicated fight choreography, which does happen here.

i think this was fun enough, and I wish there was an award to give Johnson and Henry for Best Duo. I know awards like the MTV and Teen Choice Awards have stuff like that, and that’s good. Because you can’t just pick one. They really are connected almost at the hip, and I’d totally show up for any film featuring their characters again.

Final Grade: B-

2 thoughts on “Bullet Train

  1. I liked it, even though I certainly get those folks who did not. I had to shut my brain off for the two hours and just enjoy the ride. It’s way over-the-top, and then the ending tries to soar higher, literally off-the-rails, but I just thought it was a really good watch.

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