“You never know from what terrible fate your misfortune has saved you,” reads “Bullet Train,” a cunning but satisfying thriller, one of many philosophical lines about luck and fortune. Film directed by David Leach (“deadpool 2“), there are many characters from Ladybug (brad pitt) talking or waxing poetically about fortune and fortune, luck and fortune from the Prince (Joey King), the Elder (Hiroyuki Sanada).
There are also several characters including Lemon (Brian Tyre Henry), Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) — aka “The Twins,” and yes, named after the fruit — who talk Thomas the Tank Engine, (Lemon learned to read people watching Thomas.) All of this, while being witty and amusing, balances the film’s action, which is witty and amusing as well as intense, overwhelming, and gleefully violent. Lemon and Tangerine describe how many people died in one episode in a “funny” unnecessarily violent sequence that might have given Guy Ritchie Fits of envy—and it’s made for Engelbert Humperdink’s “Pretty Ribbon.” Seeing one character in another literally blows half their head off, providing a spectacular sight. There is so much more. Some of it funny, some of it painful, some of it is both.
The plot is as simple as that of the ladybug’s handler, Mari Beetle (Sandra Bullock), gives him: board the bullet train to Kyoto. Get the briefcase with the sticker on the handle. Get off the train at the next station. easy peasy lemon squeezy. But, of course, it is not so. Ladybug faces trouble at every turn, from a conductor who keeps asking for his ticket – he lost it before boarding; Such is his “biblical” misfortune – to the Wolf (bad bunny) who plans to kill the ladybug for sprinkling her drink on his suit during their wedding. (That story doesn’t just have a laundry bill, and includes vomiting as well as bleeding from the eyes. Again, the film is excessive; the sequence in question is shown several times so that viewers don’t forget the indelible images .)
Bad Bunny in “Bullet Train” (Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures)
But like a “bullet train,” it’s easy to digest. Take some of the other violent backstories that come up. The father (Andrew Cozy) is on a hunt for the man who pushed his son off a roof and landed him in the hospital. Lemon and Tangerine are sticker-handle briefcases and babysitting The Son (Logan Lerman) as they are met with the White Death (Michael Shannon), a gangster in the Japanese underworld whose rise to power is described in a fiery and bloody flashback. (This, too, has been shown several times.)
Also along for the ride is the Hornet (Zazie Beetz), who has an agenda that includes stolen boomslang — so yes, a snake is on the trail. In addition, a giant inflatable Japanese anime character and a bottle of Fiji water are also originally included in the action.
The “Bullet Train” provides a good ride for most of its two hours. Ladybug features a series of epic fights, each more creative than the last. One has him defend himself against the Wolf wielding a sticker-handle briefcase as a weapon. Another tells him to fight Lemon in a quiet car, much to a distraught passenger. But what makes the film so much fun is that the audience mostly knows what’s going on while the characters don’t. It generates some real frisson when Lemon, The Father, and Prince meet, draw guns, burst into tears, and make bad decisions when they think they’re making the right ones. Same fate and luck again.
For all the twists of fate, the film offers some pretty funny moments, from two hilarious cameos when the ladybug pierces a bathroom and becomes familiar with the bidet and air-drying facilities of a smart toilet.
Momomon in “Bullet Train” (Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures)
Despite all the talk of luck and fortune, the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, but the characters are also mostly cartoonish, which is a minor drawback. Pitt is usually docile as a ladybug, but he’s going through some soul-searching. His mind tricks are distracting—they literally give him (and the audience) a chance to relax and breathe and process amidst all the mayhem—but they turn out to be exhausting. Likewise, the joke between Lemon and Tangerine often felt forced, as if something out tarantino Thin layer. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Henry Tyree are both in good form here, but they are also a bit unbearable. The other supporting characters are less well drawn, though the Wolf of the Bad Bunny is a hoot. Joy King’s The Prince and Zazie Beetz’s Hornet are one-note. When a wild-haired Michael Shannon arrives to chew up the scenes and kill people in the final act, he injects the film with some excitement.
For all the screwball comedy, drool retorts, and kinetic action, “Bullet Train” entertains until it goes over-the-top, which is not long before the train literally derails. Things get especially ridiculous when a character jumps into the back of a speeding train and punches his fist through the glass! It just stifles credibility. Similarly, there are many other action sets too but the film is not concerned with realism. “Bullet Train” wants to give viewers a good time. As luck, or luck, it does a lot.
“Bullet Train” is in theaters now. see a trailer via youtube,
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