Bullet Train First Reviews: An Outrageous Thrill Ride Elevated by A Winning Brad Pitt

Critics say the cartoonish, neon-soaked action flick is funny and fast-paced, even if it eventually flies off the rails and doesn't quite stick the landing.

by | August 2, 2022 | Comments

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From one of the directors of John Wick who also helmed Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde, and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw comes another outrageous action movie that is sure to be a hit with moviegoers, according to its first reviews. David Leitch’s Bullet Train stars Brad Pitt alongside a diverse ensemble cast (not to mention cameo players), all of whom are playing assorted assassins and criminals, and it’s a cartoonishly entertaining — if convoluted and familiar — right up until, as some critics claim, it stops short or goes too off the rails in the end.

Here’s what critics are saying about Bullet Train:

Should you buy a ticket for Bullet Train?

Strap yourself in and prepare for one entertaining blockbuster. – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

Bullet Train is one of the most entertaining and flashy films of 2022. – Ben Kendrick, Screen Rant

Bullet Train is so much fun… Turn off your brain and watch Brad Pitt try to kill half the cast of Atlanta. – Ross Bonaime, Collider

If you’re looking for an action flick that’s thrilling and ridiculous in equal measure, you’re in for a treat. Just don’t go in with an expectation of high art. – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

Bullet Train is a blast. – Kristy Puchko, Mashable

Brad Pitt in Bullet Train (2022)

(Photo by Scott Garfield/©Sony Pictures Entertainment)

How does it compare to this year’s other action movies?

Bullet Train is the most fun I’ve had at an action movie this summer. – Kristy Puchko, Mashable

Bullet Train delivers some of the best action we’ve seen this year. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Bullet Train is one of the best action movies of the year. – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

You can expect a lot of well-choreographed action, and the film delivers plenty. Guns, knives, swords, injections; it’s all absolutely wild. – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

The fight scenes feel relatively original… Leitch tends to approach these standoffs the way Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire once did their dance numbers: The violence needn’t be taken literally, but rather appreciated mostly for their choreography and capacity to surprise. – Peter Debruge, Variety

The action in Bullet Train is exhilarating with tight editing, dynamic camera movements, and excellent stuntwork. – Matt Neglia, Next Best Picture

The larger one-on-one fights featuring Pitt are fun to watch, but anything that becomes a group affair or requires multiple persons gets tiring and overly complicated. – Spencer Perry,

A good chunk of the action sequences in Bullet Train is often borderline visually incomprehensible….chopped and edited within an inch of their life. – Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

Brad Pitt in Bullet Train (2022)

(Photo by Scott Garfield/©Sony Pictures Entertainment)

And what about director David Leitch’s other films?

The Bullet Train fight sequences recapture the delightfully manic energy of his earlier work. – Jason Bailey, The Playlist

It isn’t every director who can commandeer this amount of craziness, but David Leitch is one of them… [He] crafts some nutty fight sequences that lean closer to Jackie Chan and The Raid than they do his previous stuff. – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

The film is packed with short and blunt action scenes like in John Wick and Atomic Blonde, but thrown into a narrative that is about as silly as Hobbs & Shaw, and with the humor, cameos, and sly nods of something like Deadpool 2. – Ross Bonaime, Collider

This movie is much more in line with Leitch’s direction of Deadpool 2, for good and mostly ill. – Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

The action movie aesthete who made Atomic Blonde into such an electric Cold War gut-punch has fully surrendered to the hack-for-hire behind Deadpool 2 and Hobbs & Shaw. – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

What all of [his] movies have in common is that they bit off more than they can chew… Bullet Train follows that same pattern. – Carla Hay, Culture Mix

Brad Pitt and Bad Bunny in Bullet Train (2022)

(Photo by Scott Garfield/©Sony Pictures Entertainment)

What other films is it reminiscent of?

Bullet Train has the saving grace of being better than other movies that have attempted something similar, like Hotel Artemis or Gunpowder Milkshake. – Spencer Perry,

If there’s an easy tonal comparison it would be to last year’s Gunpowder Milkshake, which I also absolutely loved. – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Seven Psychopaths, Pulp Fiction/Hateful Eight, and Free Fire — pretty much any movie about murderers murdering murderers — rolled into one. – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

When the end credits roll on Bullet Train, it’s almost a shock to not see Guy Ritchie listed as the director. – Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

The early work of a string of directors comes to mind while watching Bullet Train, among them Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Guy Ritchie, Joe Carnahan and Timur Bekmambetov. – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Bullet Train is just a slight step up from the celebrity-as-assassins-packed ludicrousness of Smokin’ Aces. – Ross Bonaime, Collider

It ends up playing like Smokin’ Aces or Boondock Saints or the desperate Tarantino knock-off of your choice. – Jason Bailey, The Playlist

Brian Tyree Henry and Brad Pitt in Bullet Train (2022)

(Photo by Scott Garfield/©Sony Pictures Entertainment)

How is the script?

Convoluted and wild… It’s the ridiculousness and twisty nature of Bullet Train that makes this film such a wild ride. – Ross Bonaime, Collider

An exceedingly clever script that manages to create complete story arcs for more than a half-dozen characters, is peppered with zippy and quick one-liners and is filled with a myriad of darkly funny fantastic surprises right through the closing credits. – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

The exposition can be a bit heavy at times, especially in the earlier half of the film when everyone is still being introduced. – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

The screenplay is sometimes a little too in love with itself as it attempts to pull off the “cool guy” dialogue found in Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino crime films. – Matt Neglia, Next Best Picture

The Bullet Train movie removes a lot of the intrigue and personality that’s in the novel and substitutes it with an emphasis on staging scenes that are supposed to be outrageously violent. – Carla Hay, Culture Mix

There’s an inertia about the whole thing… We don’t care about who gets pounded to a pulp or shot to pieces because there are no characters to root for — good guys or bad. – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Image from Bullet Train (2022)

(Photo by Scott Garfield/©Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Is it funny?

One of the funniest films of 2022. – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

Laugh-out-loud… The best gags are running gags, the funniest lines the ones repeated. – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

A laugh-a-minute… wild and funny thrill ride. – Ben Kendrick, Screen Rant

Bullet Train has some downright hilarious moments. – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

It’s worth it, especially for the laughs. It’s not quite The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent level of laughter but there’s still enough to enjoy the film. – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

There’s also a ton of comedy, to the point where this is oddly funnier than it is thrilling… There’s an almost Looney Tunes quality to the zany antics. – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

There are plenty of laughs to be had, but for every joke that lands, there might be two or more which don’t. – Matt Neglia, Next Best Picture

It has exactly three jokes… which are told and retold, and then told again. – Jason Bailey, The Playlist

The comedy here is probably the weakest aspect. – Ross Bonaime, Collider

Brad Pitt in Bullet Train (2022)

(Photo by ©Sony Pictures Entertainment)

How is Brad Pitt?

This is Pitt’s show all the way. Riffing on his role in True Romance, mixed with Jackie Chan-style fight scenes, there’s a chance his character, Ladybug, could become iconic. – Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Network

We haven’t seen him in a role that allows him to cut loose with this amount of physicality, while also firing off jokes at a Tarantino/Ritchie rate of fire. And he makes it look like a breeze. – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Bullet Train’s biggest weapon, of the secretly funny variety, rests in the chiseled form of star Brad Pitt, who once again proves that he is as charming a buff-and-tough movie god as he is a wry, self-deprecating comedy star. – Barry Hertxz, Globe and Mail

Pitt’s stardom has never been more obvious, and it shines bright enough here for everything else to get lost in the glare. – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

His exasperated and exhausted outlook on the growing series of obstacles is fun at first but increasingly becomes irritating as the plot grows more outrageous. – Matt Neglia, Next Best Picture

Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Bullet Train (2022)

(Photo by Scott Garfield/©Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Are there any other standouts in the cast?

By far my favorite characters in the film are Lemon and Tangerine, played brilliantly by Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

It’s the combination of Taylor-Johnson and Lemon as Tangerine and Lemon that is the real joy of Bullet Train. – Ross Bonaime, Collider

Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are particularly outstanding. – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

Henry who is the most watchable… I was genuinely sorry to see him go the first couple of times he was murdered. – Pete Hammond, Deadline

The whole cast is excellent, with [Joey] King stealing scenes as the teenaged killer with a heart of stone. – Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Network

The movie features Japanese movie legend Hiroyuki Sanada in a standout supporting role as the sword-wielding Elder. – Brian Truitt, USA Today

Logan Lerman is low-key delightful as a glorified human prop. – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Hiroyuki Sanada in Bullet Train (2022)

(Photo by Scott Garfield/©Sony Pictures Entertainment)

How is the pacing? Does the film stick the landing?

There is never a dull moment. – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

There are some pacing issues and repetition early to midway on that slightly derail things, but once we reach the second half, it’s very much a smooth ride. – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

Bullet Train becomes a bit of a bore, right before a climax… the pacing fumbles for a bit. – Kristy Puchko, Mashable

Bullet Train is maybe 20 minutes too long; the movie seems to be having too much fun to reach its final station on time. – Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

It all comes off the rails in the final act to fall short of an action classic. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

I can’t say the thing ever goes off the rails because it never was on the rails to begin with. – Pete Hammond, Deadline

Image from Bullet Train (2022)

(Photo by Scott Garfield/©Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Should we see it in a theater?

In theaters: really the right venue for this trip. – Pete Hammond, Deadline

Bullet Train is the ideal movie to watch with a crowd if you’re in the mood for a non-stop action ride. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Bullet Train is also playing on IMAX screens. That said, an upgraded ticket is not essential for Leitch’s latest movie. – Ben Kendrick, Screen Rant

Will it leave audiences wanting more?

Bullet Train is one trip you don’t want to ever end. – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

Worth a one-way ticket, if not a return journey. – Ben Travis, Empire Magazine

[Pitt’s] character is one you could build a franchise around. – Spencer Perry,

I would book passage aboard Bullet Train again in a heartbeat. – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Bullet Train opens everywhere on August 5, 2022.

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