WillDraugelis’s review published on Letterboxd:
Not to try and copy Lemon too much, but I would’ve much rather seen a two-hour Thomas the Tank Engine movie as opposed to whatever I just watched. I think this just goes even further to the point that Brad Pitt is not an action star leading man. He is a great actor and a movie star, who has great taste in projects, except when it comes to these 100+ million-dollar budget movies. He does at least tend to sway more towards the genre character type of roles, but after this it’s gotta make you wonder why he choose this as his follow up to his Oscar winning (and maybe best) performance in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I haven’t read this script, but I saw the movie and it was a mess, so I have to imagine the script was even more of one. Won’t be many compliments coming in this one, but there might be one or two, so strap in, and enjoy your time reading this Bullet Train review.
Already kind of talked about it with Brad, but this movie was for the most part, horribly miscast. To be fair though, I’m not overly sure there are many actors that could have made these paper-thin characters work, but probably also couldn’t have done much worse. No character in this gets any sort of real development at all, except maybe towards the end, but I had gotten off the Bullet Train a few stops back, so I could’ve cared less at that point. I just don’t understand what the point was of having so many characters on this train and having many of them killed off after a scene or two. It felt like a lot was probably left on the cutting room floor, because it came across messy and the way they then would tie it all together made it seem even messier and albeit a little convenient too. But bad performances from miscast actors was not what ultimately killed this movie, it is just something that I don’t think ever gave it a chance to be good.
What ultimately killed this movie was the story and the way we saw that story. Remember a few years ago, when Liam Neeson released The Commuter? A terrible movie on a train, with awful CGI, too many characters, and just a bad story, ringing any bells? Well this would just be a slightly better version of that movie. Which I get, I’m a little tougher on movies that are mostly CGI, because I enjoy the more real looking/feeling action movies, but I still don’t think even fans of this movie could deny the comparison. And is that what you want? To have your tentpole end of summer blockbuster compared to one of the generic movies that Liam Neeson (God love him) is just pumping out? To quote Jordan Peele, Nope!
But now it is time to end this review, and let’s do it on a positive note, because I would hate for people to think I’m too much of a Diesel. Which is of course the dynamic duo of Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Bryan Tyree Henry. See the secret to getting a good part was to have three names, which is why these two guys shined through. I thought they gave fun performances and had all the best lines. Most of the movie a job that they worked in Bolivia was talked about and I just would’ve rather seen that movie. Or just the same movie I saw, but with them in every single frame of the movie. Or even better just Tyree Henry talking about Thomas the Tank Engine for the entire runtime and Taylor-Johnson trying his best not to shoot him. These two were loads of fun and if the rest of the movie was as good as them, then I would have been willing to stay on this crazy train even as it went off the rails (both figuratively and literally).