2022, Movies

Bullet Train (2022, David Leitch)

This is a spin on the classic train movie that leans heavily into some specific styles in reimagining the genre. (Is the train movie a genre or is s it a sub-genre?)

The Guy Ritchie vibes are strong with this film, as are the Tarantino vibes. It depends what part of the movie we’re in for which director is getting ripped off more. I should also note there are probably others getting ripped off here, too, but these were the two who occurred to me the most. I haven’t read the novel (obviously) but, at least in the way it is filmed, and certain characterizations, it feels extremely derivative of other movies. I don’t know how much of that is from the novel and how much is from the realization of the novel. More on that in a moment.

The movie has some laughs but not as many as it thinks it has. There are stretches where I didn’t laugh but thought about how I should have been laughing. The most egregious example is also the Guy Ritchie-est example: the brothers’ banter feels extremely indebted to early Guy Ritchie but also just not funny enough. The dialogue just isn’t as snappy as the filmmakers and cast think.

But there are some good gags, though most of them are physical, though there is the odd bit of dialogue that works well or delivers a laugh. What really works is the choreography – the fight scenes are inventive and funny and are the best part of the movie.

Well, there is one other great part of the movie: at least once they subvert the genre with an elaborate introduction of a character who doesn’t last very long. But even that is something I’m pretty sure I’ve seen in another, better movie.

In addition to being highly derivative, there is also too much plot and story, and way too many flashbacks. The plot is unnecessarily convoluted but, even though it’s convoluted, we don’t need to be told what is happening every 7 minutes. It’s a particular pet peeve of mine when filmmakers don’t trust their audience and it sure feels like they don’t trust their audience to remember what’s happening.

Oh, and another nitpick: this takes place on the titular train so certain train film tropes shouldn’t work but they still happen. I don’t know anything about physics but I’m pretty sure a lot of this is utterly impossible.

There’s one other thing to note: it’s a Japanese novel but the star is Brad Pitt, the cameos are from famous white American actors, and other major characters (including the villain) are also white. I have not read the novel, but it does seem like the story was whitewashed somewhat, even though it takes place in Japan and is heavily influenced by Japanese culture.

But I was entertained. Which is something.


I gave this 5/10 and then I looked at the films that I had given 5/10 in 2022 and this is better than all of them so I upped it 1 to 6/10.

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