Special for Valley News
I love movies like “Bullet Train”. Get a bunch of thieves, assassins, and criminal types into one compact space and watch them cavort and bounce around like bumper cars for two hours. It helps that I also like trains. Taking a train from Penn Station in New York is my favorite way to travel. And the Shinkansen bullet train in Japan, with a maximum operating speed of 320 kilometers per hour, is definitely on my to-do list. If I can ever work the bullet train, a pro wrestling show at Budokan Hall, and a teriyaki burger from a Japanese McDonald’s all in one day… It’ll be a good day. I didn’t have such a good day spending eight hours at work and going to see “Bullet Train,” but it was okay.
Brad Pitt stars as Ladybug, a former assassin who is now trying to become a nonviolent criminal. He’s tasked with stealing a briefcase from a luggage compartment, but of course it can’t be that easy. Ladybug has both the best and the worst luck of anyone on the planet. For example, he easily finds the unattended briefcase among a huge pile of luggage. But at the very next stop, he’s accosted by The Wolf, played by Bad Bunny, a former high-ranking cartel member who blames Ladybug for his wife’s death. Ladybug faces difficulties at each subsequent stop, never able to complete the task of simply exiting the train.
The briefcase initially belongs to bickering British twins Lemon, played by Bryan Tyree Henry, and Tangerine, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Lemon is obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine, much to the frustration of Tangerine, who thinks it’s bad for their image that her brother cares so deeply about a children’s show. The two are tasked with delivering both the briefcase and The Son, played by Logan Lerman, to Russian mob boss White Death. They lose the briefcase before the first stop, and Le Fils shortly after. They’re going to have to get out of trouble, which Lemon thinks he can do by identifying the Diesel, or the most evil person on the train.
The Prince, played by Joey King, and the Father, played by Andrew Koji, who is unrelated to the Prince or the Son, despite being the son of former Yakuza The Elder, played by Hiroyuki Sanada, are also in the mix. Although she looks young and innocent, the Prince is secretly conniving and dangerous. She has an assassin standing over the dad’s bedridden son – again, not to be confused with the son – and will effectively give the kill order if she doesn’t check in with her man every 10 minutes. To save his son, the father will have to help rig the briefcase with explosives and trap a gun so that it backfires on White Death when he inevitably shoots it. But to fake the briefcase, he and the Prince must first steal it from Ladybug, who stole it from Lemon and Tangerine, who want it back. Oh, and there’s an incredibly poisonous snake on the train. Repeat: there is a snake on the train.
Fight scenes, snappy dialogue, and laughs abound in “Bullet Train,” which aspires to sound like something out of Guy Ritchie or Quentin Tarantino. It’s on track – pun intended – to be on par with those movies until the third act, where it winds up, pun less intentionally, with a series of long exposure shots that will have you wishing that the film rushes and becomes at the end of the line – pun definitely intended – already. Still, it’s a fun movie that should satisfy both action and comedy fans alike. I guess what I’m saying is a mildly enthusiastic “All Aboard”!
“Bullet Train” is rated R for its loud and bloody violence, pervasive language, and brief sexuality. Its operating time is 126 minutes.
Contact Bob Garver at firstname.lastname@example.org.