Bullet Train (AU - MA15+/UK - 15/US - R)

In A Word: Chaotic

Bullet Train

Bryan Tyree Henry stars as Lemon and Brad Pitt as Ladybug in Bullet Train. PICTURE: Scott Garfield

What happens when you mix eight assassins, a briefcase of cash, a poisonous snake and a deadly mastermind on the same speeding train? A chaotic blend of violence, comedy and mystery is the frenetic ride on Bullet Train.

The perennially unlucky assassin, Ladybug (Brad Pitt) has embraced therapy and a new found philosophy of pacifism and spiritual growth. What should be a simple “snatch and grab” of a briefcase on a train lands him in the middle of a feud between Yakuza assassins, British bodyguards, a Mexican cartel enforcer, a Russian mob boss and a mysterious murderer who poisons their victims. 

"Bullet Train succeeds because it does not take itself seriously at all. The film embraces the sheer ridiculousness of it all."


It is a colourful mix of characters that are as quirky as their names. Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) feel like they are imports from a Tarantino film with their eccentric banter about Thomas the Tank Engine and squabbling over their kill count. Prince is the schoolgirl mastermind whose parents wanted a boy. The Hornet (Zazie Beetz) is a master of disguise that uses snake venom to dispatch targets while Wolf (Bad Bunny) uses a knife as his signature weapon. This all makes for many and varied scenes of extremely violent action that are sprinkled with genuinely funny moments.

The core comedy is based on the situations that Ladybug continually finds himself in. All he wants to do is peacefully resolve every encounter by reciting psycho-babble from his therapist. Of course, luck would have it that the more he tries to calm any situation down, the further it escalates with stabbings, gruesome deaths, explosions and disaster.

Bullet Train succeeds because it does not take itself seriously at all. The film embraces the sheer ridiculousness of it all. It revels in the crazy coincidences and impossible serendipity that bind the characters together. It delights in hilarious cameos - look for Channing Tatum, Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock - that reference pop culture in an all too knowing way. It uses its violence to equally shock, thrill and provoke audiences to laughter.

Amidst all the mayhem, there is moral thread that Ladybug learns. Initially the unlucky assassin believes he is cursed with misfortune. By the end of the journey he is convinced that there is a higher power of fate that is directing all things to work for the best.

Bullet Train comes from director, David Leitch, who previously directed John Wick, Deadpool 2 and Hobbs and Shaw. A glance at this filmography gives a good indication of what to expect. Grand action, irreverent humour, eclectic characters  and slick, stylised environments. The mash-up of blood and humour will not suit all audiences. But, for those who can stomach the very mature rating that the film earns, Bullet Train has the makings of a cult classic.