Films at the Fox: Bullet Train is slick, stylish and just plain enjoyable

Bullet Train will be playing at the Fox Theatre in the Beach on Oct. 8, 10 and 11.

Local student Brady Burkett shares his reviews of upcoming movies showing at the Fox Theatre on Queen Street East in the Beach. Here is his review of Bullet Train..

By BRADY BURKETT

Low-effort action-comedies are a-dime-a-dozen in the world of Hollywood, and have only become more frequent with time. Often plagued with unfunny jokes, a generic, by-the-numbers plot, and a cast of indistinguishable quip-dispensers without a hint of personality or charm to speak of, these represent everything wrong with the world of the big-budget blockbuster.

The thing about them is that every time one comes out, I always see the defence of “You’re not supposed to critically analyze it! It’s just turn-your-brain-off fun!” I’ve always really hated this excuse because the poor filmmaking is the very thing that prevents me from having fun with such movies in the first place. The utter shallow brainlessness is mind-numbingly boring to me. I’m not asking for some sort of three-hour experimental indie movie (which are often just as bad in their pretentiousness), but just to feel like actual effort went into what I’m watching.

This is what makes Bullet Train so refreshing, and what makes it easily my favourite action-comedy blockbuster in years: actual effort went into it.

This is by far the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in theatres in a long time. It’s every bit as slick, stylish, over-the-top, and just plain enjoyable as an action-comedy should be, and even though not every element of it is exactly perfect, it’s so much fun that I never cared.

Bullet Train tells the story of a diverse ensemble of characters (led by Brad Pitt, as charming as ever) attempting to obtain a briefcase on a Japanese bullet train. There’s a million moving pieces and different things all going on at once on the train, but it’s all made easy to keep track of by how well-edited the whole thing is, making copious use of flashbacks to remind you that “Oh yeah, this guy did this,” and, “Right, that was that guy’s motivation.” This type of editing also helps add to the fast-paced, frenetic atmosphere of the movie.

In terms of the cast, there isn’t really a bad performance here, and all of the characters remain properly likeable and/or hateable throughout the runtime (although Brad Pitt’s Ladybug did admittedly get a little grating by the end of the movie).

The easy standouts, however, are Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Bryan Tyree Henry as Tangerine and Lemon, a duo of assassins working together on the train. They get the biggest laughs by far, and also add an unexpected amount of emotional poignancy to the entire affair with how much they truly care for one another. It’s nothing to get the audience crying, but it’s more than you would expect walking in to see Bullet Train of all things.

Speaking of things that you would not expect walking in to see Bullet Train: themes. The movie tries to say a surprising amount about the idea of fate and bad luck, and how different people deal with it.

That said, is it the richest thing in the world? God, no! Is it mainly used as an excuse for the amount of conveniences (or, for our characters, inconveniences) and coincidences that the plot relies on? God, yes! That said, the themes are still there, and that’s incredibly impressive for a pure-fun action blockbuster like this.

Speaking of which, the action is absolutely excellent. It’s clean, creative, delightfully over-the-top in its gore, and utterly and completely ludicrous on every level. The third act is pure, unfiltered insanity and I wouldn’t have it any other way, complete with a gag about a water bottle that feels ripped directly from Everything Everywhere All at Once.

That said, the comedy… isn’t the best thing ever. It is by no means unbearable, and I got a few good chuckles, but overall the movie is never quite as funny as it seems to think it is, which can come off as a tad smug. The film is so fun that you never really care about it, and there are more than enough legitimately funny jokes so that this never really bogs it down, but it is something to take note of.

In terms of other complaints, there is the fact that the whole affair feels almost too perfect at times. Throughout the entire runtime, you are acutely aware of the strings being pulled behind the scenes, completely able to envision the discussion happening in the writing room.

It feels like the producers went, “Let’s make a fun action movie with effort put into it,” and then made the movie second, instead of it just happening organically. This is, however, a really tiny nitpick that does not remotely affect how enjoyable the movie as a whole is.

Overall, Bullet Train is everything that modern action blockbusters should be. It’s exciting, over-the-top, and most importantly of all, it’s fun. And it’s fun specifically because it feels like actual effort went into its creation. Anyone that enjoys a good action movie needs to see this, right now.

I rate it 8 out of 10.

Bullet Train plays the Fox Theatre, 2236 Queen St. E., on Oct. 8, 10 and 11. For more info, visit https://www.foxtheatre.ca

EDITOR’S NOTE: Brady Burkett is a local resident and high school student. The opinions in the reviews are his, and the reviews are not sponsored or vetted by the Fox Theatre.


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