Bullet Train Review: John Wick, Looney Tunes Style

Few things are more beautiful than an action film largely set in one location. Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard. The tenement house The raid. The bus in speed. And now: the high-speed train in fast train. Constraints give the art its character, and when it comes to an action movie, confining that storyline to one space gives the cast and crew the focus to really execute on it. They must use every tool at their disposal to convey every square inch of this space to the audience so they can better appreciate what happens as everything falls to pieces as the fighters carouse from end to end.

fast train is a little detour for director David Leitch, who accounts for half of the duo John Wick. This time, Leitch foregoes the precision of wick and meanness of his solo debut, Atomic Blondefor something a little more akin to his directing work dead pool 2. In his hands, fast train is a Looney Tunes-esque action film with a lively cast playing a bunch of goofy assassins who are all on the same train to Kyoto and all after the same briefcase.

Brad Pitt plays the protagonist, codenamed Ladybug, a ridiculously unlucky semi-retired killer whose main interest these days is in snatch-and-grab jobs. Ladybug boards the title train to grab a briefcase and hop off, a seemingly easy task that doesn’t even require him to have a gun. Also, killing hurts his newfound zen vibes and positivity – which he’s happy to talk about at every turn, even when people are actively trying to assassinate him.

A mascot stands in the neon-lit aisle of an empty bullet train car.

Photo: SonyPictures

As Ladybug’s attempts to get off the train are repeatedly derailed by the arrival of new players, each one is introduced with a Guy Ritchie-style title card, a snappy code name, and a clue to a backstory fast train will almost always flash back. The Wolf (Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, better known as the Puerto Rican trap phenomenon Bad Bunny) is a Mexican assassin out for revenge. lemon (eternalBrian Tyree-Henry), a British assassin with an affinity for Thomas the Tank Engine, has a mission beyond the briefcase. So does his brother and accomplice Tangerine (great star Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a thug who loves smart suits. Meanwhile, the mysterious deadly prince (The princess star Joey King) pursues her own agenda while pretending to be an innocent schoolgirl.

All of these characters, including Ladybug, are sketched in minute detail – they’re a collection of quirks and clichés. But every actor makes the most of Zak Olkewicz’s rushed script adapting Kotaro Isaka’s novel. And the plot does more to endear audiences to these characters than any of the film’s many hit-or-miss jokes. (There are so many, you’re bound to hit a few.)

Fight in fast train are short and characterful, with punches in place of (or alongside) jokes and Jackie Chan-esque prop work. Inspired staging, like a seated scuffle between Ladybug and Lemon in the train’s silent carriage (a centerpiece of the film’s trailers), is among the best out there fast train has to offer, with John Wick choreographic precision in the service of comedy. The worst thing about the film is when it gives up that precision for bombast, as in the film’s wildly destructive finale, which is kind of expected but still disappointing.

Ladybug and Lemon stare at each other on the bullet train

Photo: SonyPictures

As Ladybug, Brad Pitt is a hilariously funny action hero, an annoying dude who appears to have just discovered therapy and The power of positive thinking in the same week. The greatest pleasure fast train watches the apologetic choreography of Ladybug’s struggles as he alternates between open peacemaking and accidental murder. He really doesn’t want To beat someone up, it’s just that they’re all so determined to kill them, you know?

cartoonish as it is fast train works to ensure its leads make the biggest impact possible through quirks and struggles, while Olkewicz’s gnarly script oscillates between the past and the present. The film is presented as a mystery – there is one John Wick-style legend of a Russian gangster who rose through the ranks of the Japanese underworld, and it ties into the backstories of several characters. But really, the story is more of a gory series of Rube Goldberg machines activating one by one, stopping every now and then to tip over another inanimate object. Inevitably, it bites someone’s ass – usually ladybugs.

Maybe the worst that could be said fast train is that it tries too hard to be the Hit action film from the summer non-superhero division. Perhaps fewer, funnier jokes would have served him well. Perhaps a greater focus on its Japanese characters would have resulted in a richer film that’s less distracted by star power – fast train intriguingly relegates heavyweights like Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Karen Fukuhara to supporting or background roles, seemingly just to remind viewers that the film is set in Japan. Perhaps it would be a better film if Leitch didn’t borrow so many stylistic quirks from Guy Ritchie films and just let his own competence shine so people could better appreciate this film for the incredibly capable action-comedy it is . It feels a lot like a version of The raidstarring Daffy Duck.

fast train Premieres in theaters on Friday, August 5th.

https://www.polygon.com/reviews/23288981/bullet-train-review-brad-pitt-john-wick Bullet Train Review: John Wick, Looney Tunes Style

Charles Jones

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