“Bullet Train:” Brad Pitt and the Forgettables

Since the start of production in Nov. 2020 and the first trailer in Mar. 2022, “Bullet Train” was a highly anticipated film. Through three delays and nearly two years of production, “Bullet Train” was an instant success in the box office, making a worldwide total of over 198 million dollars.


17th & Oak

Based on the 2010 novel, “Maria Beetle,” “Bullet Train” delivers a tolerable adaptation from director David Leitch.

Jackson Mitchell, Staff Writer

Opening with the story of a young boy getting pushed off of a building, “Bullet Train” wastes no time before showing intense action.  We are introduced to Yuichi Kimura (Andrew Koji), the father of the young boy who was pushed, in a negative light, with his father, the “The Elder,”(Hiroyuki Sanada) telling him how bad of a father he is for not being able to protect his own son. It starts the theme of the character’s strong key traits. With Koji’s character being a poor father, and each character’s code name, for example, Sanada’s character is only known as “The Elder” throughout the film.

Shortly after the introduction of the Kimura family, we meet  Brad Pitt as “Ladybug.” Pitt delivers a decent, at best, performance. We see him as a privately hired operative, who follows instructions given by Maria Beetle (Sandra Bullock) throughout “Bullet Train.” That would have been an easy character to portray on screen, if his character didn’t take a leave of absence from his work to meditate and speak to his therapist. It belittles a type of character that is a staple in action movies. His one simple job is to steal a briefcase, exit the train, and receive payment. 

With how heavily the characters rely on the key traits throughout the film, it’s hard to see any other aspects the characters bring to the table. Considering how long “Bullet Train” was in the creation stage, the outcome for how passable this film was is greatly disappointing. Despite the mediocre character writing, there are still some aspects of the film that are able to shine through. 

After meeting Ladybug, we get introduced to Lemon and Tangerine, a pair of operatives with the same dull job as Ladybug. Lemon, played by Brian Tyree Henry, puts on a stand-out performance with his character. With less prior experience in the action genre than Pitt, it was surprising to see Henry outperform Pitt so easily. Tangerine, played by Aaron Tyler-Johnson, is quite far from Henry with his performance. His character is nothing more than a forgettable British spy who has far too many one liners throughout the film. This spy duo was very disappointing on the big screen, especially with their reasons for being partners summed up in 15 second flashbacks from when they were children, which  offered nothing other than room to infer.

“The Wolf,”played by Bad Bunny, was an absolute waste of time and only seemed to matter in order to introduce “The Hornet” later in the movie. With only around 7 minutes of screen time, his character felt like a forced product placement while he was on screen. Bad Bunny should stick to musical talents. 

The final three key characters of the story are “The Prince,” “The Hornet,” and “The White Death.” Joey King as The Prince was a great casting, and she did a great job at making me hate a character. Kings’ character almost feels like it was written to be hated by the audience. The unexceptional acting makes it even easier to dislike The Prince as a whole. The Hornet (Zazie Beets), had very minimal screen time. However, she still brought one of the best jokes in the movie. After an attempted poison on The Ladybug involving having her antidote stolen, the snatch from Pittbrings a frantic and hilarious moment as she realizes how pointless her own character is. Meanwhile, Pitt gives us an abundance of terrible jokes throughout. The White Death (Micheal Shannon), plays a burly russian who infiltrated the Yakuza Clan, killing it’s leader and earning the nickname “The White Death.”

There are some action movies that can do a good job of being exciting to watch without having the audience think too deeply about the plot so they still have a good time. Other movies do a great job of being mediocre in a way that people can enjoy the movie as a joke entirely. “Bullet Train” falls somewhere in between, where the movie is mediocre as well as lacking an entertaining plot. It was a thoroughly disappointing performance from Brad Pitt, and  the film’s only redeeming factor was the creative fight scenes within the bullet train set.  

“Bullet Train” is available at your local movie theater or ROW8, Prime Video, and Vudu streaming services.