Greetings! Have you ever wondered if a movie's worth blowing the money on to see at the theater or what to add next to your NetFlix queue? Then you've come to the right place! Enjoy!

"Bullet Train" 4K Review

 Movies like Bullet Train are why I don't go to the movies anymore. When the trailer dropped with its use of a Japanese-language cover of "Staying Alive", it looked like a splashy comedic action romp with plenty of stars led by Brad Pitt as colorful criminals on a Japanese bullet train; a good reason to leave the house and pay money for some entertainment. Sadly, it's a muddled mess which thinks it's far funnier than it is and wastes the time of everyone involved, most importantly the audience's.

 It opens with a concerned Japanese father (Andrew Koji) at his injured son's hospital bedside. His father (Hiroyuki Sanada) arrives, chastising him for not protecting his grandson. We then jump to Pitt's character, Ladybug (an ironic moniker because bad luck seems to follow him around), bumbling his way through the streets of Tokyo while babbling to his handler, Maria (a mostly unseen Sandra Bullock), about how he's working on being more positive and less violent in his criminal activities. This is is first job back after an unspecified hiatus and he got it because the initial hire had to drop out.

 His task is to steal a metal briefcase with a train sticker on the handle. While he figures it's going to be difficult to find on a train full of people, it's actually super easy, barely an inconvenience, as it's just sitting in the open with the other luggage. All he needs to do is get off the train. Of course, that can't happen or else the movie would be over in 15 minutes, so we're forced to hang out with all the other supposedly colorful characters.

There's Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry), who is obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine and views it as the key to evaluating people, and his brother Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), whose briefcase it was as they escort home the wayward son (Logan Lerman) of a crime boss charmingly known as White Death (Michael Shannon). Then there is the Prince (Joey King), who has the Japanese father hostage as she seems to be running her own caper while presenting as a harmless young woman. Other assassins come and go so rapidly as to wonder why they went through the trouble of setting them up with backstories. 

The fundamental problem with Bullet Train is that the script by rookie scribe Zak Olkewicz (from a novel by Kôtarô Isaka) feels like one the flood of post-Pulp Fiction Tarantino wannabe gangster flicks in the 1990s where everyone spoke in pop culture references and were supposedly wonderfully eccentric personalities, but were just annoyingly shallow caricatures. The babbling of Lemon and Tangerine in the beginning almost made me turn it off because it was so trite. Just because Tarantino was able to make chattering about the meaning of Madonna's "Like A Virgin" interesting doesn't mean anyone can prattle on about pop culture. Unless you're QT (or Kevin Smith), don't. Just. Don't.

Compounding the weak script is that director David Leitch has a problem with managing tone and story which has plagued all his previous work. His official directorial debut after being uncredited co-director on the seminal John Wick (though the fact credited director Chad Stahelski has helmed all the John Wick sequels without him speaks volumes) was Atomic Blonde, which despite some kickass action scenes (e.g. the staircase fight oner) had story structure issues and one too many endings. His sophomore effort, Deadpool 2, attempted to amp up the elements of the first film, but ended up with a smaller result plagued by tone issues that made it seem mean and less fun. 

And I'd completely forgotten he'd directed the forgettable Furry Fastness spinoff, Hobbs and Shaw, which botched the basics of buddy action movies and allowed the messy story to grind to a halt repeatedly to shove in lazy cameos, which happens in Bullet Train as well. It doesn't matter if the fights are well choreographed when the story in between the action is mishandled and it's pretty clear he needs to stick to second unit/fight scene direction for he doesn't know how to tell a tonally balanced story.

 Bullet Train sadly isn't an outlier from Hollyweird these days, but another typical example that writing is a dead letter and that relying on even Brad Pitt's scruffy star power isn't enough, especially when his character is mostly passively drifting along the plot's convoluted stream, not a protagonist with agency. With the incredibly short windows between theatrical and streaming video releases - it released in early August 2022 and hit streaming in late-September - there's little urgency to rush to the theaters to see movies because it's not as if watching people fight on a train needs the big screen that silly dinosaur epics can somewhat justify (even those ceased being smart after the initial Jurassic Park). 

Bullet Train was advertised as dumb fun and only delivered half of its promise and it wasn't the "fun" part.

Score: 3.5/10. Skip it.


Post a Comment

DirkFlix. Copyright 2010-2015 Dirk Omnimedia Inc. All rights reserved.
Free WordPress Themes Presented by EZwpthemes.
Bloggerized by Miss Dothy