🇵🇱 Steve G 🇵🇸’s review published on Letterboxd:
As much as Bullet Train isn't a good film at all, it's not bad enough that it might lead to a complete rethink of the action comedy genre - and we need one.
Said genre is in a terrible state right now, landing fewer decent efforts with each passing year. Mainly because they're all doing the same thing and it seems as though the Ryan Reynolds effect is that every leading man in these things these days is just trying to be Ryan Reynolds. So if you thought his recent announcement that he's taking a break might lead to a change, guess again.
Because if Brad Pitt, a star and actor of long-standing respect and success, is prepared to just 'do a Reynolds' rather than approaching his director and saying, "I'm Brad fuckin Pitt - how about I do it my way?" then the situation isn't going to improve any time soon. Bullet Train has done alright at the box office, it isn't completely awful, and as such the corner ain't being turned any time soon.
It's strange though because I would argue the action genre, although perhaps not as strong the last couple of years, has been in a really good place for quite some time. As soon as a director tries to cross that threshold from pure action into something jokier though, it just falls flat. At the same time, Bullet Train doesn't actually deliver all that much action when you sit down and think back over its two hour+ running time.
There's an argument that its setting is part of the problem here - there's just not much room for manoeuvre both in terms of the actual action itself and in terms of what you do with said scenes. There's the odd decent part and Hiroyuki Sanada, as it should be, gets the coolest sequence when he finally boards. In terms of action vs running time, however, it's quite sparse. It's far more of a comedy film than an action film and that can't be right?
The casting and use of the cast is at best bizarre and at worst quite bad as well. Joey King and Brian Tyree Henry are asked to 'play it English!' for some completely fucking inexplicable reason - King squeaks by as just about passable but Henry? I love that guy, seriously, but honest to fucking christ. There's no reason in the year two thousand and twenty-two for an accent to be butchered this badly. Just cast someone fucking English or just let him be American!
Then again, his sidekick Aaron Taylor Johnson somehow manages to botch his accent despite being from this actual country. So who the fuck knows, lads. King is such a strange character in that she gets absolutely no action at all that I can think of, cast adrift as an antagonist and bordering on pointless. Zazie Beetz turns up for one scene and Logan Lerman spends most of the film dead.
I don't really know exactly what Leitch wanted this to be, but I do know that we deserve a lot better than it.