Middle-Aged Genre Enthusiast’s review published on Letterboxd:
Mostly I’m just worried how poorly Yo_Roboto will think of me when he finds out I had a blast with this.
Snatch for the MCU era. I’ll concede that the CGI is too much and gives a lot of the more bombastic action a weightless artificiality. But I don’t know if that’s entirely a bad thing for this film. Or more accurately, I should say it’s shockingly just part of its charm. At least it was for me.
I personally thought the juxtaposition of gritty, brutal, hand-to-hand, close quarters combat with glossy digital train shit and flying bodies and lushly saturated explosions was a pleasing mixture. One thing grounded the other while Vice versa with lightening the mood conversely. What can I say? Shit just worked for me. Get off my back.
Mostly, I was overwhelmed by three days of cleaning my house and building IKEA furniture and getting the food picked up and ready to prepare for hosting Thanksgiving. So when everyone finally left, I wanted a shiny, entertaining new movie to unwind and switch my brain off to. So me picking the Bullet Train 4K up for $10 and having it in the iTunes queue felt preordained by the home theater gods.
I was smiling and laughing and guffawing and even found myself unexpectedly clapping at certain moments. This was basically 2 hours of good vibes for me. Movie stars looking great and being fun. The story was engaging and I actually found its themes both illuminating from a meta perspective when it came to Pitt’s character and personally moving as an admonition for me to fucking chill out and enjoy the ride of life instead of being furious and hung up about the mistakes and injustice of the past.
Also, this kind of reminded me of the brilliant Story Train episode of Rick and Morty. It even had a Tickets Please guy. So that won me over right there.
Pitt is better and funnier than he’s been in years. Aaron Taylor Johnson blew me away with how much I liked him in this and his pairing with the always excellent Brian Tyree Henry was inspired. Bad Bunny was awesome, despite me not really understanding what his deal as a musician is. Zazie Beets calling Brad Pitt bitch like 28 times in two and a half minutes had me in stitches for some reason. Joey King was terrific in a truly difficult role, Andrew Koji brought credible dramatic empathy and Hiroyuki Sanada is the fucking man in everything, so no exception here. Plus you got Michael Shannon being wildly amusing as his typical lunatic self portraying “The White Death”.
Loved this cast, thought the action was fun and exciting and even appreciated the twists and turns of the story and its overarching themes. All that and it looked and sounded great in the Atmosdome. As sad as I am about action movies today not being a patch on what they were in the 90’s, this is a step in the right direction. The frothier tone is great here and welcome, cause if I had to sit through some miserable, inert, one-take delivery system like Extraction again, I’d fucking kill myself.
I just don’t want to lose Yo_Roboto’s friendship and confidence over this.