David Leitch is a director who has been attached to some pretty fantastic franchises in his short career as a director. He’s been involved with Deadpool, John Wick, and the Fast and Furious franchises in various stages of production. He has also done a new original movie in Atomic Blonde. Based on the book by Kōtarō Isaka, Bullet Train is another new property from this man who seems to be involved in one successful film after another.
The players involved in Bullet Train are as varied and extensive, with many colorful monikers. The first is Ladybug (Brad Pitt). He has a bad luck streak. He has taken a mission to retrieve a suitcase after Carver, another agent, gave up the gig. He gets on a train with many other people who want the case, namely The Twins, Lemon (Bryan Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). These two must bring a young man back to his father, a gangster known as The White Death. The Prince (Joey King) is a young girl pretending to be something she’s not. A few of the other characters in this crazy action film are The Wolf (Bad Bunny), The Hornet (Zazie Beetz), Yuichi Kimura (Andrew Koji), and his father, The Elder (Hiroyuki Sanada).
Leitch is known for his action set pieces, and Bullet Train is no different than the other films he’s been involved in. This film is one giant action sequence set on this train, with plenty of fight scenes done masterfully. In one scene, I couldn’t even believe what was unfolding in front of my eyes. Most of the rest of the action scenes and fight scenes were fantastic through and through. Some involving swords and or gunplay blew my mind. People will be talking about the action in this film for weeks and months to come.
There was a lot of hype around this film leading up to the release, and it was not lost on me. It completely lived up to it. It had everything from brilliantly written and delivered comedy lines to jaw-dropping cameos. Just when I thought this film couldn’t get any better, it did. There were even easter eggs within the film that were called back later on. This film had layers on top of layers of storytelling that were crafted phenomenally throughout. How the writers threaded this story together was masterful.
A storytelling aspect in the film that was pretty cool was a series of flashbacks that helped define some of the characters’ backstories. Why were they where they were in the movie at that time? The writing in this film by Zak Olkewctz is next level. It’s based on a book, but the seeding of the characters’ backstories was done brilliantly. How Leitch and company edited these scenes together made for a more cohesive film all the way around.
This film had many amazing parts from a below-the-line perspective. The visual effects were seamless. I couldn’t tell at all which scenes were real or computer generated. I could imagine what could have been created with a computer, but I couldn’t see it with my naked eye. That makes it that much more impressive from an editing perspective. The stunt work was incredible as well. It looked like the actors in these scenes were fighting, running, and jumping. So Leitch, who has a background in stunt work, knows how to disguise these scenes to make them look authentic and make the film look that much better. I was blown away by the editing by Elisabet Ronaldsdottir and the stunt work coordinated by Leitch. These aspects of the film were amazing.
Bullet Train is the savior of the summer. It’s coming out when there isn’t anything to go up against it. Early August can be hit and miss, but I suspect that once word of mouth gets out on this film, people will be flocking to see it again and again. Especially once it opens up in other countries, the buzz will be like a thick lather of sweat on one’s body after a good workout. I don’t think there is a film this year since Everything Everywhere All at Once that will have garnered this much buzz.
Leitch knows how to make enjoyable action films. The action set pieces are phenomenal and the layered writing accompanied by the best editing in any film this year besides Everything Everywhere All at Once and incredible cinematography. The acting by the entire cast is brilliantly performed. The humor mixed with the more dramatic scenes worked perfectly as a yin and yang. Throw in some pretty cool songs from “Staying Alive” at the beginning of the film to “Everybody Needs a Hero” towards the end, and you have the best movie of the summer that should and will endure for weeks to come as word of mouth spreads.
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media