HomeFilm‘Bullet Train’ Blu-ray review

‘Bullet Train’ Blu-ray review

Arriving on various home video formats this week is ‘Bullet Train’, the latest film from action supremo David Leitch. Given a fairly rough ride by viewers and critics alike when it was released in cinemas this summer, I think it might find a more appreciative audience at home. Featuring an all-star cast, headed up by Brad Pitt, the film is an enormously fun action thriller, and the perfect Saturday night popcorn movie.

Based on the novel by Kōtarō Isaka, ‘Bullet Train’ finds former assassin “Ladybug” (Brad Pitt) boarding the titular Japanese train on a job to steal a briefcase. He has grown disillusioned with this life, and is having something of an existential crisis. Unbeknownst to him, the briefcase is currently in the possession of two cockney hitmen, going by the names “Lemon” and “Tangerine”, played respectively by Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Lemon and Tangerine have been hired by a Russian-Yakuza boss to retrieve his wayward son. Complicating things further is “The Prince” (Joey King), a schoolgirl who for unknown reasons has pushed the son of a Yakuza hitman off the roof of a building, and lured him onto the train so she can manipulate him further. And if all that wasn’t enough, there’s someone else on the train poisoning people.

As you would expect from a David Leitch film, the action is creative, bloody, and brilliantly staged within the tight confines of the train. His stunt team are the real stars of the film. The actual stars a bit of a mixed bag. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry are a lot of fun as the duo of dodgy-accented East London assassins. They appear to have walked straight out of a Guy Ritchie film and into this one. Likewise, Joey King with her clipped English accent and short dark bob, looking like a young Rachel Weisz brings something different to what could have been a very blokey gangster film.

Credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Brad Pitt however is arguably the weak link. He is basically doing one of those atypical Ryan Reynolds performances. The glib, wisecracking everyman, who is going through a personal crisis, seems like he might be out of his depth, but when push comes to shove is very capable in a scrape. It’s just not a style Pitt is suited to, and I’m not saying I would have preferred Reynolds in the role, because I most certainly would not. It’s more that type of character which I’m just sick of seeing in modern action movies.

Working from Zak Olkewicz’s snappy adaptation, David Leitch thankfully keeps the whole thing moving at a terrific lick. Filmed in a lurid, bubble-gum coloured, comic book style, the film has a really smart visual flair that matches perfectly with the fast-moving pulpy narrative. It’s probably a little bit too in love with itself, and goes on a bit longer than it should as a result, but it’s funny and violent and entertaining enough to just about get away with it.

On the disc there is a filmmaker commentary with David Leitch, producer Kelly McCormick, and screenwriter Zak Olkewicz. The ‘Making of Bullet Train’ gives us an interview with David Leitch, behind the scenes clips from the brilliant custom-built set, as well as interviews with the main cast. Also contains a cool little nugget of trivia for those who don’t already know, but David Leitch was Brad Pitt’s stunt double back in the day.

You’d be disappointed if a David Leitch film didn’t have a featurette on the stunt work, but lucky you, this film has a really good one. ‘All Aboard the Pain Train’ has loads of insightful detail on the designing of the fights, the amazing visualisation work they do, and the focus on physical storytelling. 

There is a short clip of outtakes and bloopers, some of which are quite funny. The disc is then finished off with some short featurettes on the cast, easter eggs you might have missed (although some of the best ones aren’t included), stunt pre-viz on select scenes, and a weird promo thing the cast had to do for the NBA finals. You might as well switch off before watching that last one.

Bullet Train
Credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Cast: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry Director: David Leitch Writer: Zak Olkewicz Released By: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Certificate: 15 Duration: 126 mins Release Date: 24th October 2022

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John Parker
John Parker
John is a freelance writer and film reviewer for Entertainment Focus.

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