Film/Book Review – Bullet Train (2022)

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If you have seen any of David Leitch’s previous directorial offerings then you will be pretty clued in on the ride Bullet Train is going take you on. If you have enjoyed any of Leitch’s previous directorial offerings then you will be pretty excited for the ride Bullet Train is going to take you on. Take the humour of Deadpool 2 and combine it with the action of Atomic Blonde and Bullet Train is the result.

Bullet Train brings together a bunch of miscreant characters with various nefarious purposes, each known by their villainous moniker, and places them all into one confined space. It is the filmic equivalent of an experimental cocktail – a multitude of ingredients are thrown together, shaken up and the result is likely to be divisive. You are either going to want to drink up or you will be unable to stomach more than one sip.

For those who find this cocktail to their taste then Bullet Train is a real treat. Much like a bullet train itself, it zips along at speed and everything else becomes a blur. Bullet Train is stupid, irreverent and chaotic but simultaneously it’s funny, action-packed and a hell of a lot of fun.

The ensemble cast is great. From Brad Pitt’s ebullient dude to Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s foul-mouthed geezer, from Joey King’s precocious Prince to Brian Tyree Henry’s too nice bad guy with an obsession for Thomas the Tank Engine – the cast and their performances are engaging throughout.

Of course the potential caveat to any film adaptation is how loyal it is to the source material and whether any changes work to the betterment or detriment of the story. The novel Bullet Train, by Kotaro Isaka, was originally entitled Maria Beetle and was translated into the English language in 2021. As with the film, the novel is a frenetic and fast-paced joyride filled with quirky and oddball characters. The film certainly feels loyal to the tone and pace of the novel and lovers of the source material will definitely be able to marry the two together. The only exception being that the film is an Americanised version, and it is important to remember that.

Though Bullet Train does have a whiff of style over substance about it – it doesn’t matter enough to ruin it. The film works in all the ways it wants to work and was a rip-roaring cinema experience.

★★★★


Action, Comedy, Thriller | USA, 2022 | 15 | Cinema | 3rd August 2022 (UK) | Sony Pictures Releasing | Dir. David Leitch | Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Tyree-Henry, Andrew Koji, Sandra Bullock

Kotaro Isaka‘s Bullet Train book is available now from Penguin Random House UK.

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