• Jeff Beck

Bullet Train: An Actioner That Delivers a Little More (Blu-ray)


The Film:


It seems like most action movies nowadays are all about giving you the most bang for your buck, that is, they focus on big action scenes, but don't really score high marks when it comes to story, characters, or even being particularly memorable. However, every now and again, you get one that puts in a little more effort in an attempt to satisfy in these other key areas as well, which brings us to the wild and zany actioner "Bullet Train," which does indeed go the extra mile to give you something more than your average, forgettable action outing.


The film revolves around a group of characters that all end up on board a bullet train headed to Kyoto. An assassin known as "Ladybug" (Brad Pitt) is there to retrieve a briefcase, while two other assassins, "Lemon" (Brian Tyree Henry) and "Tangerine" (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), have been tasked with escorting the briefcase and the son of a Yakuza boss. Also aboard are Yoichi Kimura (Andrew Koji), who was told to take the train after his son was pushed off of a rooftop, and "Prince" (Joey King), the one who attacked his son. All of these characters (and more) converge into one crazy ride that will see more than a few deaths before the trip is over.


This synopsis has been purposely left brief and vague because this is one of those films that really works best the less you know beforehand, for its greatest strength ends up being its wild unpredictability as the multiple storylines come crashing into each other. The film is sheer fun simply because you really have no idea what's going to happen from one minute to the next. That is, you don't know who's going to run into who on this train and how they will react when they do.


Many of these interactions result in impressive action sequences that often have the characters fighting in the small confines of the train. You would think that there's not a whole lot that they could do in terms of choreography here, but the creativity displayed ends up being one of the main reasons the sequences are more memorable than what you might see in your more average action flick. That is to say, don't let the title and locale fool you. This is an actioner that knows how to do more with less.


Peppered into these are the fascinating cast of characters that are all set loose on this train with their own agendas. In particular, Ladybug, Lemon, and Tangerine (played with great energy by Pitt, Henry, and Taylor-Johson, respectively) give the film much of its spark, while the others that get folded in as the film rolls on help propel the story forward in their own compelling fashion. This could have easily gotten bogged down with so many characters thrown in the mix, but screenwriter Zak Olkewicz (adapting the novel by Kōtarō Isaka) balances them all out rather skillfully.


In the end, the only real complaint is that the film's finale is drawn out quite a bit, which is odd because the film plays pretty tight for the most part up until the final act. It feels like it could've been tightened up here just a bit to make it flow as well as the rest of the film. That's not to say it's a bad ending, just that it's a very busy ending that didn't really need to be so. That said, this is still a really fun film that gives you plenty of twists and turns along the way, while surprising you even further with its innovative stunt work. If you've been wanting an action flick that actually goes the extra mile, then "Bullet Train" is just the ticket.


Video/Audio:


"Bullet Train" arrives on Blu-ray in a 2.39:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. The image is remarkably sharp throughout the two hours, bringing the film's exciting action to the screen in stunning clarity. Likewise, the film's 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is top-notch, giving you the dialogue, score, and sound effects in outstanding quality. Overall, they've done a great job for the film's Blu-ray debut.


Special Features:


Filmmaker Commentary: An informative track featuring director David Leitch, producer Kelly McCormick, and screenwriter Zak Olkewicz.


Mission Accomplished (6 Minutes): A short, behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.


All Aboard the Pain Train (5 Minutes): A brief featurette that explores the stunts of the film.


Trained Professionals (7 Minutes): A featurette that focuses on the film's ensemble.


Catch What You Missed (4 Minutes): A quick look at the film's Easter eggs.


Select Scene Stunt Previs (4 Minutes): A collection of previs sequences used to work out the fights.


Bullet Train Goes Off the Rails (5 Minutes): A series of spots for the film.


Outtakes & Bloopers (3 Minutes)


Conclusion:


With its unpredictable intersecting storylines, innovative fight sequences, and memorable cast of characters, "Bullet Train" is that rare action flick that doesn't skimp when it comes to delivering in the important areas that are often neglected in the genre.


Score: 3.5/5


Available on Blu-ray/DVD starting today.


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