Based on the Japanese novel Mariah Beetle by Kotaro Isaka, action-comedy Bullet Train features a wide cast of characters, primarily assassins, seeking a case, or something related to said case, all while on a bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto.
We’ve got Ladybug (Brad Pitt), who seems to be followed by bad luck. Thomas the Tank Engine enthusiast, Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and his brother, Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). A plotting rich kid, The Prince (Joey King), Kimura (Andrew Koji), the father seeking revenge against the Prince, and the Elder (Hiroyuki Sanada), a former Yakuza.
I’ll preface this by stating that I have read the book. The first thing that struck me as odd about the film was the casting decisions. Changing “The Prince” from a guy to a girl was one change that was unnecessary and didn’t work for me. Maybe it was because of Joey King or the script, but something was off. The Prince is pretty terrifying in the book, but she just came off as a spoiled brat in the film.
The best chemistry between the characters was that of Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. The back-and-forth banter was one of the film’s best parts, and I think they improved upon the original book characters. There was one thing that I actually hated about the film; the Hornet’s dialog. Every other word out of the chick’s mouth was ‘bitch’ for the whole two minutes she was on screen. It was really cringy and not funny.
Honestly, the most compelling plotline of the book was the Prince and Kimura along with his father, the Elder. You’d have no idea from watching the film why the Prince pushed Kimura’s son off a building. Instead of getting a little more background and seeing the overall badassery of the Elder, we were treated to Ladybug reciting silly mantras from his therapist.
Obviously, I had a few issues with the film, and there were also some pacing problems. But, it did have a lot of things going for it. It had a great soundtrack and good fight choreography and looked very slick. I probably would have enjoyed the film more if I hadn’t read the book.
In the end, there was just something mediocre about it. It wasn’t dumb enough to be a big dumb action film and wasn’t clever enough to qualify as a sleek, funny, cool action thriller. That just made it ok. I would probably watch it again if someone asked me and bought the ticket and popcorn.
I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.