Bullet Train by David Leitch is the curious case in which an action movie in all its splendor uses comedy as a means to accentuate its best moments. A common attempt in similar mixes, but one that Leitch achieves with a skill that surprises and disconcerts. Between impossible shootouts, charismatic characters and an explosive aesthetic, the adaptation of the book Mary Beetle by Kotaro Isaka, is a triumph of imagination and resources.
In several of the moments of Bullet Train, the argument seems about to get out of hand. Whether it’s because of the exaggerated, radiant and colorful aesthetic, the excessive camera movements and the choreographed violence like a dazzling spectacle. Or maybe because the script — entirely based on the manga Mary Beetle by Kotaro Isaka — boldly combines action and humor. Also, the fact that in this scenario where dying and killing are the only options available, they are supported by something more complicated. What happens when five violent stories intersect with each other?
The answer could be a confrontation, but for David Leitch it is a journey through the action genre from the mocking. And it is not that it can be said that Bullet Train It’s not a comedy — although its best scenes make you laugh — nor is it just action. In the same way as the origin story, the film avoids commonplaces and tries to show that a mix between genres is possible. From the camera that follows Ladybug (Brad Pitt) to the train that travels from Tokyo to Morioka, turned into a shifting stage. all in Bullet Train it is dizzying by necessity. But more complicated — and clever still — it’s inevitably tricky.
As if it were a playful and sinister reinvention of the best Agatha Christie mystery boxes, the film poses a conundrum at the entrance. Who are the villains? The answer is obvious and Leitch plays with the nuances of morality, putting the possibility of saving life as the only fact. So while all characters will kill or risk being killed, there is a rare collection of grays among their intentions. In particular, when the game involving all the hitmen, the consequences of their actions and what will happen next, is tied to one idea. Who will live? With the bullet train turned into a winding landscape and a tortuous corridor of violence, the film goes beyond a clash between dark and violent creatures.
We can all kill and all will kill, the great premise of Bullet Train
And perhaps it is the combination of the five main premises that makes the film feel like a fast-paced ride. One, that links not only the protagonist (and his bad luck), the rest of those who persecute him. Also, it conditions the possibility of raising the stakes when the motivations to kill escalate until they become more and more urgent. And in the midst of it all, humor. A well codified, constructed and elaborate humor that is mixed with scenes of violence that could remind the stark and aesthetic of Guy Ritchie.
In particular, when the film must find the formula to mix its narrative threads without leaving details about what moves its characters on the edge. After all (and although it may seem so), this is not a mercenary assignment that gets complicated. Nor is it revenge, a quest for justice, or at best, a combination of all of the above. Bullet Train it is a confrontation at all levels with increasingly complex scales of bizarre situations. At the same time, the action is superimposed as a vehicle to narrate a complicated landscape of elaborate and uncomfortable ideas. Everything, while the train speeds up and its very ecosystem signs and sustains the fact of the brutality of fights, beatings, stab wounds and bullets with ease.
Bullet Train uses John Wick’s premise of criminal organizations with rules and interconnections, to create a larger idea about his plot. And what seems like a sinister conspiracy is also a brutal and reckless tour of the condition of what can happen when there are no limits. What would happen if you mixed five of the most violent, best trained and worst luck killers in one place? The premise is repeated over and over again. And perhaps, one of the script errors is to seem repetitive in the mix of its map of situations. But despite that, there is an elegant and well-considered globality about the meaning of the action as a whole. Yes, everyone is going to die or be killed. But at least they’ll have fun along the way.
In the end, all roads lead to a bullet. And not only to the train
In hands less adept than those of director David Leitch, the combination would have been a jumble of cartoony scenes, somber moments, and showy murders. But the filmmaker manages to create a compelling journey through a journey in which a murderer among murderers will have to survive. That, without having them all with him, covered in wounds and in the middle of an increasingly complicated challenge.
With all kinds of references to action movies, a cast in which Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock shine for their charisma and good humor, Bullet Train it’s a surprise. And although in the end the film seems to lose its rhythm a bit and exaggerate in the use of digital effects, the result is already complete. Bullet Train It rushes through genres, conventions, clichés, and a sense of grotesque absurdity. But everything is so entertaining and well built that it leaves no other option but to have fun. Perhaps its most mysterious attribute under the collection of exaggerated scenes and bare-handed fights.