Bullet Train

Bullet Train ★★★

I am seeing a lot of people say that this is just like a Guy Ritchie film, but I personally think that they should be more than a little cautious to make that comparison.  Ritchie has mastered the art of the come-full-circle comical classic action thriller and the serendipitous balancing of violence, tragedy, wit and comeuppance... it’s a tough formula to crack, and yet he does it brilliantly at least 90% of the time. Ritchie (and also Martin McDonagh, whom I hold in the same regard or higher) knows how to take the viewer on a journey in which they are fully amused and engaged for the entire trip; David Leitch hasn’t yet mastered this level or sort of filmmaking I am sorry to say. His past outings with Deadpool are definitely fun and possibly reflective of his true niche, but that franchise consists mostly of rapid-fire laughs smattered in cheeky simplistic A-stories, following a single character for the most part... it’s not a well-handled ensemble and intricate storytelling which was required here and now. 

Despite taking place on a state-of-the-art high speed electric train, this one certainly loses steam at several points. Both the gratuitous exposition and the flashback backstories take us off the train and detract from the action and tension. In many ways BULLET TRAIN is the cinematic equivalent of someone constantly going off on tangents while being asked for the main story straight-up... which can be fun if it’s balanced and disciplined, and circles back to the principal plot at the just the right moment (and yes, full disclaimer, of course I myself do this, and not often brilliantly, when I’m drinking or in random Letterboxd posts). 

Anyway, this is a mindless popcorn flick with some good one-liners and a fair bit of situational comedy, solid performances and good kills, but it’s of the take-it-or-leave-it and to-each-their-own brand - not universally enjoyable. 

A shout-out to Ladybird saying that he’s “good with faces” when Brad Pitt in real-life deals with his prosopagnosia (face blindness), which is an obstacle in my own life... I can’t even recognize my own parents if they’re separated and I haven’t seen them in a while 😬 - I really have to finish my own scripts with an idea of what that’s like (although I think it’s more common than we know).

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