Brad Pitt blazes on screen in action romp ‘Bullet Train’

Jackson Milch, Life & Arts Reporter

David Leitch’s “Bullet Train” hits theaters Friday. The action-packed film stars Brad Pitt as assassin Ladybug, who speeds, laughs and incapacitates enemies in Japan while searching for a missing briefcase. After directing “Deadpool 2,” “Atomic Blonde” and “Hobbs & Shaw,” the trademarks that established Leitch’s Hollywood notoriety as an action director are more present than ever in “Bullet Train.”

Brad Pitt shines as the smooth-talking, self-assured Ladybug. Almost every line from Pitt will leave audiences erupting in laughter. Pitt’s character also masterfully delivers comedic commentary of the melodramatic, sometimes nonsensical nature of the action genre. Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson star as powerhouse duo Lemon and Tangerine. The film also contains A-list cameos from stars like Sandra Bullock, each familiar face adding their own memorable comedic punch.

From Ladybug’s use of a plush mascot as a shield against the White Death (Michael Shannon) in his game of solo Russian roulette, Leitch’s signature over-the-top action is constantly present. He has learned how to effectively shoot hand-to-hand combat in confined spaces, evident from the dozens of brawls seen on the titular bullet train’s close quarters. The film utilizes the excessive hand-to-hand combat to comment on the cliche of action heroes somehow never having guns in dire situations.

Comedy made for another strong aspect of the film. In addition to Ladybug and star-studded cameos, almost every wisecrack from the fruit-flavored hit men is hysterical. The film is able to lean on its strong screenplay and meticulously-choreographed fight scenes to provide viewers with a signature style. The film does a great job of leaning into its extravagant premise, creating an urgent but colorful atmosphere inside of one train during one night. Despite the film’s technical achievements, its premise leads to a convoluted plot occasionally relying on flashbacks and drawn-out backstories.

While not extremely memorable, “Bullet Train” makes for an enjoyable action romp. Approaching its plot with an extremely fast pace, the film never feels sluggish, delivering a dynamic story elevated with Pitt’s comedic flair. The third act is a little bumpy, but it does not ruin the film, and Brad Pitt’s charisma alone carries the slowest parts. Audiences should stick around for the post-credits scene, which ends the film with a bang and another laugh. In “Bullet Train,” Brad Pitt proves his legacy as a leading man in Hollywood.

3 briefcases out of 5