Hold on to your (bucket) hat, Bullet Train makes for a pacey adventure (Picture: Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures via AP)
Bullet Train provides the answers to many questions, including what Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out for a Hero sounds like in Japanese, how to live your life based around the characters from Thomas the Tank Engine and why Brad Pitt absolutely should not retire.
It’s also an undeniably good time, offering style, silliness and substance wrapped up in one deliciously cool package.
Based on Kôtarô Isaka’s dark comedic thriller novel, Bullet Train follows unlucky assassin Ladybug (Pitt), who is determined to take on his next mission in a peaceful way, a job deliberately chosen by his handler Maria (Sandra Bullock) to be easy.
However, when he boards the world’s fastest train from Tokyo to Kyoto to steal a suitcase stuffed with money, his assignment becomes a touch trickier after he encounters a roster of lethal adversaries, all with their own connected yet conflicted objectives.
Pitt is revisiting welcome Danny Ocean territory with his laidback characterisation of Ladybug – but turned up to 11 – as he continues an almost constant conversation on the phone with Maria, all the while spouting self-help mantras, lamenting on his ill luck, and trying not to get murdered.
Add in Ladybug’s tendency to accidentally kill people himself (leading to some brilliantly choreographed sequences) and Pitt is at his best, supremely confident in the type of leading man role he’s been tackling less frequently in recent years.
Brad Pitt’s Ladybug stuggles with bad luck as he tries to complete his simple mission (Picture: Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures via AP)
Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson make an excellent double act (Picture: Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures via AP)
However, the film is not all about him, stacked as it is with top shelf global supporting talent, from the likes of Michael Shannon, Logan Lerman, Zazie Beetz, Hiroyuki Sanada and Benito A Martinez Ocasio (aka rapper Bad Bunny).
The standouts are bumbling ‘twins’, Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a double act of rather ineffectual assassins who bicker constantly. Both nail their joint dynamic of stupid-but-not-really and thinks-he’s-not-stupid-but-is, causing Ladbybug the most grief throughout the film. Henry is, regrettably, an alumnus of Don Cheadle’s Academy of Cockney Accents (not to hammer home the Ocean’s 11 comparison too much) but his energy is so spot on than you can – almost – block out the offending vowel sounds.
The cast boasts a lot of talent (Picture: Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures via AP)
Hiroyuki Sanada is one of several assassins in the film (Picture: Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures via AP)
Fans of TV show Heroes will also very much enjoy Masi Oka popping up as the train’s strict but smiley conductor, while The Kissing Booth’s Joey King more than holds her own in a major role against many more established stars.
Bullet Train is a slick and satisfying ride off the rails, which never takes itself too seriously – as evidenced in its slapstick choreography, surprise Hollywood cameos and violently funny use of fluffy Japanese mascots.
King turns in an assured performance (Picture: Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures via AP)
Always respect the quiet carriage (Picture: Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures via AP)
As Brits, we can also get behind the entire sequence based around the train’s quiet carriage, as Ladybug and Lemon engage in a silent but deadly tryst while trying to avoid the loud tuts of another passenger.
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Pitt recently caused a tizz with an interview where he spoke about being on ‘the last leg’ of his career, leading many fans to panic about him retiring. Luckily he has now set the record straight on that, but if this had been one of his last movies, it would have been a fine film to go out on.
It also proves – like 60-year-old Tom Cruise’s huge success with Top Gun: Maverick and the continuing Mission: Impossible franchise – we’re not ready to let go of him just yet.
Bullet Train is out in cinemas now.
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