High Speed ​​Rail Review | Film

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Assassin ‘Ladybug’ (Pitt) is sent by her master (Bullock) on a seemingly simple mission: board a Japanese Shinkansen bullet train, collect a briefcase, and get off at the next stop. Except the train is filled with other killers – including “Tangerine” (Taylor-Johnson), “Lemon” (Henry), “The Wolf” (Bad Bunny) and “Hornet” (Beetz) – tangled in a web of violence vengeful.

When John WickThe co-director of boarding a movie on a bullet train packed with assassins, some things are expected. Bullet fights? Check. Creatively choreographed sets, shot with precision and clarity? Check. The return of action of a charismatic A-lister? Check. But if High-speed trainthe configuration looks like ‘John Wick on rails’, David Leitch’s latest film is surprisingly not that film – instead it continues his post-Wick trajectory towards a larger, more splashy and cartoonish territory.

Next Deadpool 2 and Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw, Leitch’s tongue remains firmly in his cheek for a slimy summer movie with samurai swords and psychopathic killers – an ultra-violent farce. Like its transport namesake, High-speed train is fast, smooth and brilliant – but it’s less about going straight from A to B than about looping itself in knots of coincidence and artifice, as a cavalcade of hitmen clashes in cars. Think Kill Bill Vol. 1 filtered through early Guy Ritchies, both for better and for worse.

Style over substance seems to be the goal here, but High-speed train only ever works at the surface level.

Locked in this loose and distant rhythm, Brad Pitt plays “Ladybug”, a hitman who tries to practice mindfulness while (ah-ah-ah-ah) staying alive (the film opens with a cover in Japanese of this very Bee Chanson by Gees). But his seemingly simple job – climb aboard, grab a silver briefcase, get off – isn’t so simple, and he’s soon beset by other hitmen with their own overlapping agendas. Among them, the duo Cockney Tangerine (Brian Tyree Henry, his accent veers between stellar and trembling) and Lemon (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, supremely enjoyable), whose bickering translates a true brotherhood; Joey King’s Prince, who uses his youthful appearance as a weapon (among other things real weapons); Bad Bunny’s The Wolf, desperate for revenge; and Andrew Koji’s Yuichi, forced into action when his son’s life is threatened. High-speed trainThe main goal of is to place them on intersecting tracks, flashing back and forth to tell the story of their interrelated grievances as the bodies pile up.

The results are often amusing, especially whenever Pitt is on screen – drying his hair with a trick Japanese toilet, repeating his therapeutic mantras (“Hurting people hurt people”) and silently brawling with Lemon in the room. silent car. His chemistry too with Sandra Bullock’s largely off-screen handler is lovely.

What it is not, in any way, is deep. Style over substance seems to be the goal here (and style itself is substantial), but High-speed train only ever operates at the surface level – the storyline’s explorations of surrendering to fate versus attempting to take control seem superficial at best. Moreover, its appropriation of Japanese culture feels uncomfortably symbolic, reveling in East Asian iconography while featuring a sprawling cast of largely non-Asian actors, wasting Karen Fukuhara and Masi Oka in small pieces and sidelining legends like Hiroyuki Sanada (stuck speaking in ‘Wise Old Man’ tropes when he enters the film).

Expect a ride and nothing more, however, and High-speed train delivers widely – its excesses sometimes smug (an Engelbert Humperdinck murder montage is overplayed), sometimes sublime (a bottle of water and a poisonous snake get their own intro-montages). Worth a one way trip, if not a round trip.

The action is top-notch, and Brad Pitt and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are having fun, but with all that hyperactive style and cartoonish violence, you’ll be ready to disembark at its final destination.

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