Review: David Leitch’s Action Movie ‘Bullet Train’ Is Worth Watching
by Manuel Sao Bento
August 5, 2022
Moviegoers have countless reasons for visiting movie theaters, some unrelated to the film chosen for their viewing. However, when it comes to reasons related to the cinematic work itself, these factors cover a wide range of possibilities: the cast, what genre, the franchise or connection to the saga, the director, among many other options. High-speed train contains many of these attractive benefits, with David Leitch – a filmmaker known for his entertaining action movies like John Wick (which he co-directed with Chad Stahelski), Atomic Blondeand Deadpool 2 – and the main star brad pitt as top picks, with a sensational ensemble cast, it has the potential to reach many viewers. It will mainly appeal to lovers of unbridled action with a touch of humor that holds the promise of emptying your bucket of popcorn. And High-speed train don’t fool anyone.
Unlike many of my peers in film criticism, I don’t consider it a “crime” when a film is nothing more than pure entertainment with no deep messages or complex arcs. movies like High-speed train are as much cinema as any other more refined and sophisticated project, especially since everything is subjective in the seventh art. If a filmmaker’s main mission is to create action sequences that leave audiences with high adrenaline levels, jaws on the ground and eyes bulging, and if they achieve that essential goal, how can call such a film irrelevant, unworthy or less valid than other types of stories?
High-speed train follows a Hollywood formula that, executed well, rarely results in failure. Leitch takes a simple and straightforward premise – the protagonist must get on and off a train to steal a briefcase – and adds one or more disruptive elements: several assassins present on that same train, using them to generate high tension situations, including included combat sequences throughout several carts – and, finally, interconnects the isolated and individual storylines to form a shared narrative with a modicum of coherency and associated logic, which is not often of great concern to screenwriters.
Leitch brings back the frenetic energy and intense action of his films past, embracing the maximalist silliness that takes High-speed train through overtly and deliberately exaggerated paths, where the laws of physics are ignored for the sake of humor. Some viewers can’t tolerate any kind of deviation from how the real world works, especially when the story is based on what the audience perceives as “our world”, but ultimately it’s always up to you. ‘creative team to demonstrate by tone balance that the film never wanted to follow more serious undertakings. Here, Leitch deceives no one: the light and witty tone is still present.
However, High-speed train surprises with the scale and scope of its last minutes – unless you avoid all the trailers, because they show EVERYTHING – something that partially contradicts the simplicity and practicality of its first two acts. Confrontations with interesting choreography give way to mediocre visual effects, probably due to the short time and budget allocated to this same department. So the climactic ending leaves something to be desired, but like the rest of the film, it’s quite satisfying. Its brisk pacing helps ensure that the two-hour runtime doesn’t feel too daunting, though second-act tweaks are ok.
Where High-speed train really shines with its extraordinary cast. Pitt directs a phenomenal cast of actors, with Aaron Taylor Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry steal all the spotlight as they play the comedic duo known as “Tangerine” and “Lemon.” Hilarious interactions from the first to the last second, giving off such an impressive chemistry that, this time, I even support the creation of a spin-off specifically featuring these two characters. Clearly, Pitt once again demonstrates incredible range, clearly having fun as the protagonist who just wants to have peacebut misfortune and violence pursue him unceasingly.
Hiroyuki Sanada and Zazie Beetz are other personal highlights, but like the rest of the supporting cast, the two get very little screen time. All the characters end up underdeveloped in a film where action, comedy and thrills are a priority, making it impossible High-speed train to achieve a superb level of quality. As mentioned above, there is nothing wrong with making movies for the sole purpose of giving audiences what they are looking for in terms of cinematic entertainment. Still, unless the central feature of the respective genre is really impressive – Top Gun: Maverick is a great example – a storyline as formulaic and generic as by Zak Olkewicz rarely elicits an overwhelming ovation.
High-speed train employs action director David Leitch’s maximalist style in a deliberately silly narrative driven by frenetic combat and distinct humor. While it doesn’t deviate from familiar formulas or leave viewers blown away with never-before-seen action sequences, the execution of all of the intended cinematic moments is more than satisfying, resulting in a few hours of entertainment. The outstanding cast is worth the ticket, and every second with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry is truly hilarious. Brad Pitt also shines. Despite the visual effects, storyline, and character development all traveling economy class, it would be a “crime” not to recommend this trip.