Bullet Train

Bullet Train ★★★½

Buoyed by a snarky screenplay, a slew of surprising celebrity cameos and most crucially, Brad Pitt's sheer charisma, Bullet Train is a fun romp that moves quickly enough for you to overlook some spotty accent work, convoluted plot points and a sensory overload neon visual aesthetic that feels vaguely Orientalist.

One might assume Zak Olkewicz's script is too quippy to spend any screentime fleshing out themes, yet he manages to squeeze in some ideas about fate and coincidence that fit perfectly with this delirious comedy of errors.

It might have come off a little too serious if it weren't coming out of Pitt's mouth, playing an earnestly beleaguered hitman who's gone to therapy and now peppers every conversation with vague platitudes about self-improvement.

Bryan Tyree Henry similarly is an assassin with grand if not half-baked theories about life: he compares everyone he meets to a Thomas the Tank Engine character. However, it's Joey King who feels like the breakout star here; she has finally broken out of the Netflix teen romcom silo into a meatier role as arguably the biggest threat on the train, hiding in plain sight.

I love one-location films, especially train films, because restriction is the mother of invention. David Leitch has a cheeky, kinetic style that you especially see in his fight sequences, but also in stylistic detours like a recap of the movie entirely seen from the point of view of a Fiji water bottle. I won't pretend like this is a particularly deep film, but it is a fun romp that proves, if purely by the power of its cameos alone, that movie stars and (semi)original stories still matter.

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