Bullet Train

Bullet Train ★★★½

"When we are so quick to anger, we are slow to understand."

David Leitch infuses color, style, great characterizations and constant humor in 'Bullet Train,' a film that's more of a treat due to its atmosphere and personalities than as an action film worth rewatching. In fact, I can't say any of the action was particularly gripping or full throttle, usually over too soon or marred with CGI enhancements, but Brad Pitt's lead Ladybug makes every line and conversation so enthralling, as do the host of assassins and other mysterious characters who enter and exit his life while on the train. Big kudos go to British brothers-and-assassins Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and also to Hiroyuki Sanada's The Elder, who plays an integral role as the film powers along.

It's perhaps a film that's too ambitious for its own good at times, though; so many characters are introduced in the first and second act, it's easy to forget who's still lurking about with a bigger role to play while simultaneously not learning enough about them. With this come stilted backstories and introductory flashbacks that are jarringly edited in (including a fun-loving history of a particular water bottle), to the point you can't help but feel like this might've worked better as a miniseries or even by adding another 20 minutes to its already surprisingly long runtime for something of this caliber.

Having said that, the film's so damn sophisticated and ribbing, it's hard not to fall in love with it more and more as it goes along. It includes lots of great character insights in its muddled storytelling, especially from Ladybug as he tries to deescalate through escalation while constantly coming to terms with the new man he's trying to be, and his straight-laced humor and mannerisms in the face of danger, death and details is a wonderful trait, causing him to be more than a bland assassin with some skills. He's a man of luck and fate, no matter how much he disagrees with the concept of such predetermined events unless they're bad.

I also loved just how much fun everyone else is clearly having here, relishing the opportunity to wax poetic about Thomas the Tank Engine or deny the possibility for some backstory after several long, bloodied battles. Sure, some of the characters are undercooked and there's a certain needless cameo that I loathed (but another one that's bluntly sexual in its added, superfluous humor) but everyone plays their parts to a T and feel so accurately cast in the process. It's not a particularly good action movie, ruined by the bad CGI and not at all what I was expecting, but the other numerous strengths make up for these faults and make this one a fun ride. I doubt it's one I'll revisit much in the future or buy on 4K when it releases but I had a blast with it when all is said and done.

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