Spoiler-free review: ‘Bullet Train’

Our current culture is invested in action thriller movies whether they are about superheroes fighting villains, antiheroes scrambling to survive, or adventurous odd couples with humorous happenings. Fighting for a common cause, large and small studios alike are eager to fulfill this appetite. ‘Bullet Train’, the latest from director David Leitch who also directed ‘Deadpool 2’and co-directed ‘John Wick’, is a combination of the three coming out strong in the second two categories. The following review is spoiler-free with only content warnings, not plot giveaways. Overall, I give it a 7 out of 10.

Content Warning

Bullet Train is rated R for profanity, violence, and gore. There is mild “sexual content” including kissing, implied character nudity that is covered by bedsheets, and a man attempting to humorously imply he has a ‘sex thing’ after being asked to do a favor. The movie has both a comedic and tragic feel as it can be both madcap and gory at times. However, it is well-balanced and keeps a realistic though not awkward tone to the movie. There are different levels of gore from spurted blood to deaths due to non-medically amputated body parts shown plainly in the audience’s view.

The Plot

Five individuals board a bullet train traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto in Japan. Motives and missions’ conflict when they discover their roles are interconnected and what’s at the end of the line gives a dark twist to their part in the bigger picture as assassins. With the countdown nearing, who will make it to the last stop?

The Review

The central action takes place in one day. The acting is professional, and fun and the various scenes that occur from night into the day are aptly shot. There are a few interesting angles, but they aim to show the action and dialogue taking place without artistically distracting or detracting from them.

The first two scenes perfectly set up the movie’s tragic, action, and comedic themes. The transition between them is well-done. The movie accurately accomplishes and balances its themes. There is foreshadowing in the music and background and a Chekhov’s gun that later pays off in a positive artistic way.

The main characters: Ladybug played by Brad Pitt, Tangerine played by Aaron Taylor Johnson, Lemon played by Brian Tyree Henry and Prince played by Joey King are well cast, distinct, and interact well together however the side characters are hit or miss. The main antagonist is a bit disappointing, but the central antagonist is delivered better. The connection between the characters and the main antagonist however is intriguing.

The plot is original and well-executed although a reveal occurs a little too early leaving the audience to wait until the characters discover it. That said the characters’ discovery of the reveal is well-written.

The gore is a bit much at times, especially with the amputated body parts and the language is a bit gratuitous and can distract from the humor. However, it aims to be realistic and accomplishes that goal.


Excellent social commentary

Fairly good humor

Crisp action shots

Good balance between plot and action

Time to breathe in between action scenes

The movie could have been cut by about 10 minutes but the content that is left is good

In Conclusion…

Bullet Train was released in theaters on Aug. 5 and was released to watch on Amazon Prime Video on Sept. 27. It was produced by 87North, Hill District Media, Sony Pictures Entertainment and CTB Inc.

Since its release, the movie has grossed $103 million in the United States and Canada. Worldwide it grossed about $240 million. With an average $86 million dollar budget, the movie made $153 million globally.

If you are willing to sit through the profanity, an odd sex comment, and the gore Bullet Train is a great movie for a Friday night with friends or family members of age. It is a wild ride that accurately, artistically, and realistically accomplishes its goals as an action tragicomedy. While many superheroes versus villains, survivalist antiheroes, and attempted humorous action movies tend to be copying off of one another or their previous successes, this movie reads the ingredients, picks the best parts, discards what it can do without, and makes a masterpiece. The plot is original, the main characters are natural and the social commentary jokes are apt and land well.