Director: David Leitch
Starring: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Bullet Train is a blatant attempt at style over substance. Alas, it has very little of either and so as a film fails miserably.
That’s not to say that Bullet Train has no style. The bestselling book of the same name written by Kōtarō Isaka that the film is based on was a very cutting-edge “dark, satirical thriller” that “fizzes with an incredible energy and surprising humour” – quotes from someone else’s review, of course.
The film is nothing of the sort. It comes across as an over-the-top comic romp with extreme cartoon characters and a ridiculous level of gratuitous violence that somehow tries and fails to capture either the spirit of Tarantino or of Asian-style gangster shoot-em-ups. Couple that with western actors in effect attempting to play roles best suited to a Japanese anime film and what you end up with is a complete mess.
And even Brad Pitt fans are likely to be disappointed as he cruises through one of the easiest and most one-dimensional roles he’s ever had to not play.
If only the film had been made in Japan, in Japanese and with Japanese actors. There is a clear cultural misalignment here. That’s not to say it is insensitive or cruel, but only that the subtleties of any societal-based story are inevitably going to be missed if someone from another culture attempts to tell the story, no matter how much money is being thrown at them and their lead actor.
Rating: One-and-a-half train wrecks