Not too Brad at all

Bullet Train (15, 120 minutes)

By now people should have a pretty good idea what to expect from a David Leitch film, and it’s not an adaptation of Jane Austen.

The Deadpool 2 and Atomic Blonde director takes a deliberately derivative turn in this high speed zip across Japan where apart from one Karen, a gratuitous star cameo and a newly rescued hostage with a limited lifespan, the only passengers appear to be a collection of hitmen whose jobs are connected.

Flashbacks fill in the story, which is actually richer than it first appears, in the style of Japanese martial arts sagas and the graphic cartoon violence is very much played for laughs.

Bullet Train is a film of returned favours with cameos being reciprocated. The director himself was previously a stunt double for star Brad Pitt on five movies, Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum repay Brad’s brief turn in Lost City and there’s a blink and you’ll miss it Deadpool 2 connection.

Pitt is a contract killer recovering from some sort of midlife crisis who has been given the supposedly easy job of getting on the train, picking up a briefcase and getting off at the next stop, no questions asked.

But, of course, if it was really that simple we wouldn’t have this chaotic blood pumping mess of a caper, which seems to have divided opinion across the media.

Not a chaotic mess in the way, say, Cathy Yan’s 2020 burning money Birds Of Prey was, this runaway train ride is a riotous off the rails adventure enriched with exaggerated characters one could easily imagine existing in a manga adventure – the schoolgirl assassin (Joey King), the Yakuza kingpin (Michael Shannon), the sword-wielding elder (the legendary Hiroyuki Sanada) and the thuggish twins (a great comic turn by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry) whose supposed brotherly connection is a running joke throughout – all orbiting around the A-list killer whose streak of bad luck seems to be never ending.

Throw in an escaped snake and, in the right mood, you’ve got a funny, entertaining romp over the tracks which, for my money, is well worth the ticket.

RATING: 7/10

Mick Ferris

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