Bullet Train

Bullet Train ★★

So this is becoming a thing now. I watch a Trailer and get a pretty good feeling for what a new movie is going to be like. I can tell (despite liking a genre) that it won’t be for me and I cross it of my watch list. The movie comes out and starts getting very positive reviews from critics, audiences and the Letterboxd community. I’m starting to doubt my decision to dismiss it and eventually end up watch the movie anyway. And the result is almost always the same. I end up getting exactly the movie I expected when I first watched the trailer. This is telling me two things: First, Trailers these days apparently do a pretty decent job at portaging what a movie will actually be like. And second, that I need to start trusting my own instincts more.

This is the same situation I had with Everything Everywhere All at Once, Thor: Love and Thunder, The Gray Man and just recently Prey. And now we have Bullet Train. A movie that on paper I should absolutely love. I love crazy (R-rated) action movie, I like the cast, Japan and I like Train-movies. Unfortunately, I did not like Bullet Train, at all. So what’s at fault? The script first and foremost. The story is not very well constructed even for a silly action movie. The quip-heavy (Guy Ritchie-like) dialogue is stupid at best and insufferable at worst. Barely any of the jokes land and they do that thing, were they repeat a joke over and over again and hope that the repetition does make it funny. It does not. I chucked a couple of times and laughed out loud only once. For me it was mostly terribly unfunny, often eye-rolling attempts at humor.

The action fares a bit better. There are some good bits here and there but honestly, I expected a lot better from David Leitch. Sadly, there’s once again an overabundance on CGI which at the finally just becomes utterly ridiculous. Seriously, at a certain point, this becomes a live-action Looney Tunes were all actions have zero consequences. I’m sure some people will take a liking to that, but I completely checked out of the movie at that point. The cast, is trying. But the script is giving very few of them something interesting to do. And Brad Pitt, as much as I love he guy, was just way too old for his part. Twenty years ago he would have been perfect. But here, the way he acts looks and speaks, he just feels miscast. I’m also pretty sure that they digital and very noticeably removed his eye bags in some scenes. Looks weird. The same thing goes for a big name cameo at the end (won’t spoil it) who’s face looked shockingly rigid and emotionless. All in all, I think most of the talent in front of the camera was badly wasted here.

In all honesty, I think this is a pretty terrible movie. With long stretches of exhausting unfunny dialogue, lame jokes, wasted and miscast actors, mediocre action and tons of bad CGI and fake backgrounds. The saddest thing is that this represents the current state of (Action) movies. And as far as I can tell most people are pretty ok, even enthusiastic about this level of quality. I personally can’t and won’t accept this standard. I refuse to call this a good movie even in the wake of having seen much worse lately. To me, this was a sad, painful and sobering experience to watch. And the lesson I'm taking from this is that I'm going to be even more selective about what films I watch in the future.

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