By BENNETT MCBRIDE
What happens when someone takes an action anime, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “John Wick” and mixes them all up like a cocktail? “Bullet Train” is what happens.
The story takes place on a bullet train hurtling through Japan, featuring a fascinating cast of characters. Brad Pitt stars as Ladybug, an assassin who has sworn off killing and has terrible luck. Ladybug has taken a job to board the train, steal a briefcase, then get off the train at the next stop because another assassin called in that day. Seems easy enough, right? Unfortunately for Ladybug, our star-studded cast and his bad luck turns a simple job into a herculean task. Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson portray The Twins, two assassin brothers with a high body count tasked with keeping the briefcase and the son (Logan Lerman) of a crime boss known as the White Death, safe.
The White Death is a mysterious Russian who took over a branch of the Yakuza. His face isn’t shown until the end of the movie, and I won’t say who plays him because his casting is one of the best surprises in the movie. Andrew Koji plays The Father, who ends up on the train because he believes the person who pushed his son off a roof is on the train. Hiroyuki Sanada plays The Elder, a retired Yakuza member of the same family that the White Death took over, and the father of Koji’s character.
The plot seems kind of stereotypical at first, but the more wacky characters the movie reveals and the more Ladybug comments on luck and fate, the more you realize exactly what it’s up to. It ends up being a not-so-well executed commentary on those topics, but it doesn’t want to fully commit.
The movie is directed by David Leitch, known for high octane action movies like “Deadpool 2” and “Atomic Blonde.” He’s arguably one of the best when it comes to action, and the film is worth checking out just for that, but when it comes to the deeper stuff he seems to struggle.
Overall “Bullet Train” is worth a watch, but its insistence on being a cutesy movie with great action combined with its insincere message about luck and fate can be a little grating at times.