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The Thomas The Tank Engine Reference David Leitch and Brad Pitt Removed From Bullet Train

Minor spoilers for Bullet Train lie ahead, so read at your own risk.

Bullet Train gifted fans with a very silly, but badass, action story led by Brad Pitt. David Leitch’s latest movie has a lot to offer, but many fans like myself may have really appreciated its various nods to a certain fictional locomotive. The world of Thomas the Tank Engine plays into the film’s bombastic events in very funny, and sweet, ways. While the nods that were present within the finished production were nice enough, it turns out there was one major Thomas reference that was removed. 

In the movie, skilled British assassin Lemon (played delightfully by Brian Tyree Henry) is established as being a major fan of Thomas the Tank Engine. The brutally honest character explains during the movie that the children’s show was instrumental in teaching him how to read people. Some may be kind and cheeky like Thomas, while others might be more unsavory like the devious Diesel. Lemon occasionally classifies people by giving them stickers of the Thomas characters that best align with their demeanors. 

These stickers are nice visual cues that are enough to make one chuckle, especially if they have long loved the Island of Sodor’s little blue engine. But during the Bullet Train premiere, composer Dominic Lewis revealed that the film was meant to have yet another nod to the iconic franchise. Apparently, Lewis was planning to inject a very familiar tune into the score:

There was one moment towards the end of the movie, there’s like an emotional bit between Brad and Brian, between Lemon and Ladybug. … Lemon is obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine, right, and everyone he meets, he sort of gives them a character from Thomas, whether they’re a Percy or a Gordon, whatever he thinks. And I did this huge emotional version of the Thomas the Tank Engine theme, the British one. Like [Giovanni] Pacini-esque, like operatic, massive.

As someone who grew up loving the franchise, I would’ve been pumped to hear an operatic version of the original Thomas theme song. I can’t even imagine how incredible it would’ve been to hear that music blasting through the IMAX theater during my showing. Alas, Dominic Lewis explained that the idea didn’t get the response he was hoping for:

Because we were doing everything over the equivalent of Zoom, so we weren’t in the room together, so we weren’t in the room together. I thought it was a delay, but it was sort of just like, ‘It’s great. I think maybe we might want to pull back on that. I don’t think it’s quite right for this scene.’

Despite that reception, the Fist Fight composer enjoyed his time working on the action thriller and went on to say that his director had “total trust” in what he was doing. From there, he summed the gig up as a “wonderful experience.”

I still can’t help but wonder what his take on the Thomas the Tank Engine theme would’ve sounded like, though. Nevertheless, I won’t turn my nose up at the Thomas nods David Leitch provided. They’re true novelties, especially considering how little big-screen love the Really Useful Engine gets. Personally, I still wouldn’t mind seeing what 9’s Shane Acker would do with a Thomas movie.

But as I muse about the lovable locomotive, Bullet Train has returned to the top of the box office (during what was immediately a slow weekend). Still, don’t let that keep you from seeing the movie, which touts badass action scenes in tight spaces and Brad Pitt’s distractingly “beautiful” blonde locks. I’m not sure many people would’ve imagined that such a movie would provide thrills like these and sprinkle in some Thomas references here and there, but I’m so glad it does.

You can go see the movie now and, if you’ve already screened it, take a look at CinemaBlend’s explanation of Bullet Train’s ending. You can also check out the schedule of new movie releases to stay up on everything else that’s chugging into theaters this year.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.