Bullet Train is a wild, two-hour ride.
The film is a dark, fast-paced, and bloody thriller packed with action from the first train stop to the last, but it is also filled with pockets of humor that keep the momentum going. The satirical film was directed by David Leitch and is based on the 2010 cult favorite Japanese novel Maria Beetle by Kōtarō Isaka, and stars Brad Pitt, Brian Tyree Henry, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
Pitt plays a former assassin named Ladybug who is sent on a mission to collect a briefcase from a bullet train traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto. Unbeknownst to him, other killers are also onboard and with the same task in mind, including two hitmen brothers Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry). When speaking to the cast during a Zoom interview, it was clear that they understood this movie’s main goal was to serve as a reprieve for audiences and allow them a space to have fun and enjoy the thrills. Pitt also shared that the making of this movie came at a good time for him as an actor and as a person, since they filmed it in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bullet Train does take some time to get to the point, but when it gets to its final destination, you let out a sigh of relief after being on edge the whole way through. The action doesn’t stop, and mostly every moment in the film is filled with intense, explosive fighting sequences, most of which involved Pitt battling every other member of the cast. The film also features performances from Zazie Beetz, Bad Bunny, Joey King, Sandra Bullock, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Michael Shannon.
When the movie was announced, people complained about the Japanese story being “whitewashed,” but the novel’s author has said he doesn’t agree with the criticism. “I don’t have any feeling of wanting people to understand Japanese literature or culture,” Isaka told The New York Times. “It’s not like I understand that much about Japan, either.” That casting decision also allowed for diverse actors like Henry, Bad Bunny, Beetz, and others to be in the film, and without spoiling much, they all brought so much to the table.
Complex caught up with Pitt, Henry, and Taylor-Johnson ahead of the film’s release and they seemed to have built a strong enough connection for them to poke fun at each other throughout the interview, which is exactly the level of playfulness and humor the film brings. Check out our conversation with the actors about the film, and what it was like working together to bring this story to life below.