‘Bullet train’: a fast, chaotic journey with nowhere to go

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As if we needed more proof of the Tarentinization of contemporary cinema, “Bullet Train” barrels into cinemas to remind us. A generation ago, Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” – following the even more popular “Pulp Fiction” – was sending audiences and the film industry alike, a jolt of visual energy and compulsive action through an action genre that had died. Since then, we’ve been immersed in imitators who have sought to master QT’s branded elixir of sadistic violence punctuated by expository flashbacks, deep-cut needle drops, and grand announcements on pop-culture arcana.

Is it old yet? Not to the makers of “Bullet Train,” which featured John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson’s royale-with-cheese banter has morphed into a rapid-fire disquisition on Thomas the Tank Engine, and in which nearly every other Tarantino signature is forged with Shameless Shameless. The result is a film that is almost constantly two things at once: airy lighthearted and exaggerated; over-energetic and lazy; Reliably refreshing and lusciously derived. Directed by David Leach, who has shown impressive action chops with films such as “Atomic Blonde” and the John Wick franchise, “Bullet Train” is set to satisfy the itch regularly met by the likes of Ben Wheatley, Matthew Vaughn, Guy Reverse-engineered. Richie and Edgar Wright. If you’re craving another variation on the well-worn theme of the majority of bloodsuckers with glib verbal filler, Leach’s has introduced a presentable slab of grist for the increasingly awkward mill.

The main pleasure of watching “Bullet Train” lies in watching Brad Pitt perform one of his left-handed performances, here in a bucket hat and pair of thick-rimmed glasses and generally watching Mickey out of his star. Carry- God Personality. As Ladybug, a member of an elite killing force whose expertise lies in “snatch and grab” jobs, Pitt is relaxed, lovably goofy, and consistently on point. In fact, Tarantino’s reach even extends to Pitt’s relationship with Leach, who served as Pitt’s stunt double, an unmistakable echo of Pitt’s role in Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. .

The cross-references don’t stop at a film that includes jokes and winks, up to and including cameo appearances, that will inspire laughter or eye roll depending on the audience’s tolerance for self-entertainment. Even thought to be “Bullet Train” adapted from Kotaro Isaka’s novel, every beat – and beatdown – landing in it, a film fabricated in a hermetically sealed Hollywood lab is experiencing. Ladybug’s latest marching order—delivered by her handler Maria, played by Sandra Bullock in an ennui-filled vocal performance—is to fetch a silver briefcase from an overnight train traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto, one of a job. Doddle that nonetheless sends the ladybug into paroxysms. About self-doubt: He begins to question his life of violence and sabotage, even leaving behind his once-current gun.

The briefcase becomes extremely important for any number of people on the train, which makes it all the more curious why it’s so easy for ladybugs to find it and snag it for themselves. But logic isn’t the point of a story populated by colorful raffish hit men, ne’er-du-wells, a precocious anarchy merchant and a perpetual crime kingpin named the White Death.

Backed by a capable ensemble that includes Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Joey Adams, Zazie Beetz, and rapper Bad Bunny, Pitt gushes through the proceedings, spurred on by the painful physical stunts of “Bullet Train”. Along with lines like “hurting people who hurt people”, apologizing to an opponent for not wanting and interrupting one of the many manoes, unintentionally spilling a bottle of sparkling water. swallow.

The joke-to-joke-fight rhythm continues until the final confrontation in which the connections in “Bullet Train” are explained through an improbably detailed plan. What starts out as a clever, well-organized delivery system for mayhem, carnage, and jokes eventually finds its inner Agatha Christie. For all its supercool posture, casual toughness, and vaguely over-compensated, “Bullet Train” was a comfortable one all along.

R. in cinemas in the area. It contains strong and bloody violence, widespread hate speech, and brief sexuality. 152 minutes.