SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Bullet Train. If you have not yet seen the film, continue at your own risk!
As noted in the CinemaBlend review, David Leitch’s Bullet Train is most definitely a chaotic movie. It may only have one primary setting – the various cars in the titular high-speed rail – but it sports a wild non-linear narrative, more than half a dozen primary characters, and constant action. There’s a lot to absorb in the cinematic experience, and that most definitely includes the crazy third act.
There are a lot of details thrown around very quickly in Bullet Train’s ending, so we’ve thrown together this helpful little guide to break down what it is that happens, and answer a big question, and analyze how everything reflects on the film on the whole. To start, let’s recap what happens at the conclusion of the new Brad Pitt movie.
What Happens At The End Of Bullet Train
Everything in Bullet Train is built to lead up to the arrival of the White Death (Michael Shannon) in Kyoto, and his first confrontation is with The Prince (Joey King) – who is revealed to be his daughter. As promised following the failure of her original plan, she attempts to execute her plan to kill him with her rigged gun, first by feigning her inability to shoot him. She asks that he take her weapon away from her and kill her with it, as he does with all of those who attempt to assassinate him… but he refuses, instead letting her know that he “sees” her.
Why All Of The Assassins Are On The Bullet Train
The Prince being on the train was not part of the White Death’s plan, but he reveals that he did orchestrate the arrival of all of the other protagonists on board, hoping to execute a mass revenge plot by having all of the killers just kill each other. While he hands the briefcase filled with ransom money and The Prince’s planted explosive off to his henchman, the violent crime boss reveals he has been seething while mourning the death of his wife, and he blames all the principal characters for their hand in what happened to her.
We learn that Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) were specifically hired to “rescue” the White Death’s son (Logan Lerman) because they were responsible for butchering a crew in Bolivia, and the White Death had to deal with the situation instead of being with his wife the night she died. The Hornet (Zazie Beetz) was then hired to kill the White Death’s son while he was in Lemon and Tangerine’s custody because she had murdered the only doctor in the world who could have saved the life of the crime boss’ wife after her car crash.
The Wolf (Benito A. Martínez Ocasio a.k.a. Bad Bunny) was informed by the White Death that the assassin who killed his entire wedding party was going to be on the bullet train – the intention being to have him kill The Hornet… but what the puppet master didn’t anticipate was that Ladybug (Brad Pitt) was also at The Wolf’s wedding as part of another job. The White Death also didn’t foresee Ladybug having a history with Lemon, the latter having previously shot the former twice.
So why is Ladybug on the train? Two words: bad luck. The audience is reminded that the hired gun dealing with an existential crisis was only given the job to steal the briefcase from Lemon and Tangerine after another killer named Carver called out sick. It’s revealed that Carver – a quick cameoing Ryan Reynolds – was the driver of the car that hit and killed The White Death’s wife, and was really supposed to be the main target of the whole plot.
Everything Goes Boom
The henchman finally open the briefcase, and an exposition blasts the surviving characters from the station back into the bullet train. Meanwhile, Lemon is in the cockpit of the high-speed rail and, executing the heroes’ plan gets it moving – crashing through a gate and accelerating down the track. The movie’s biggest action sequence plays out in two locations, as Ladybug and Lemon battle henchmen in the cockpit, and the White Death fights with his old rival, The Elder (Hiroyuki Sanada).
Lemon ends up saving Ladybug and is thrown out of the train while it travels over a bridge, and The Elder is saved, by all things, the well-traveled water bottle featured throughout the movie. The White Death is distracted when it strikes him, allowing Elder to slash his sword through his rival’s shoulder and into his chest cavity. Meanwhile, the bullet train goes completely out of control and goes crashing down a hill, and Ladybug is only saved because he is hurled into the padded mascot costume that The Hornet was previously using as a disguise.
After The Train Crash
In the aftermath of the crash, Ladybug, The Elder, and Kimura a.k.a. The Father (Andrew Koji) are all alive, and somehow so is the White Death, who is dying but also upright and armed with a gun. Ladybug pleads that he isn’t Carver, but the White Death pulls the trigger anyway… and his head explodes because the gun is the one rigged by The Prince.
Another problem instantly arises when it’s revealed that The Prince is also alive and armed with a machine gun… but then she gets wiped off the map when she is clobbered by a tangerine truck.
It’s only in the aftermath of all this chaos that Ladybug’s handler, Maria Beetle (Sandra Bullock), shows up in person to check on Ladybug, which seems like a rare stroke of good luck… until a broken light pole comes crashing down and crushes her car. Happy to be alive, the two walk off together discussing philosophy and smart toilets.
Who Killed The Prince And What Happened To Lemon?
At this point in pop culture history, audiences are trained to stay through the end credits of comic book movies like Thor: Love And Thunder anticipating a surprise extra scene – but it’s not just those blockbusters that use that fun little trick. Plenty of other movies use it as well, and Bullet Train is among them. What’s more, the action flick uses a coda sequence to answer to big questions left dangling when filmmakers and actors’ names start to roll on screen: who killed The Prince, and what happened to Lemon?
The end credits of Bullet Train are interrupted by a chyron that informs the audience that the tape is being rolled back 10 minutes before the end of the film – specifically to the scene where Lemon sacrificed himself and got ejected from the titular vehicle. It turns out that the hit man survived his rough exit thanks to landing in a body of water, and after killing a henchman who also survived, he is elated and heads to shore. Once he gets back to the road, he discovers the tangerine transport – which he can’t help but connect to the nickname of his dead brother/partner – and he drives it to catch up with the out-of-control train. When he does, it’s at the perfect time to kill The Prince.
Does Ladybug Actually Suffer From Bad Luck?
One of the running themes throughout Bullet Train is the idea of luck being a present factor in life, both good and bad, and the movie has two conduits for the mysterious force: The Prince and Ladybug. The psychopathic daughter of the White Death is persistently struck with good fortune (an example being the ease with which she is able to get the briefcase open and install the bomb), and the bucket hat-wearing killer never sees breaks that go his way (exemplified early in the movie when a suicidal bellboy falls on his car during a stakeout).
As far as Ladybug goes, there is certainly a strong argument to be made that he is, in a sense, cursed. The mere fact that he is on the train as a replacement for Carver is a point in that direction, not to mention his deadly surprise encounter with The Wolf, and the fact that he ends up killing Tangerine instead of The Prince when faced with the choice.
But is it really bad luck when your personal misfortune benefits the lives of those around you? That’s the wisdom that The Elder tries to impart on Ladybug shortly before their showdown with the White Death, and it’s an interesting point in the context of the film. After all, if Ladybug hadn’t replaced Carver, it’s possible that the main villain’s plan would have gone exactly as planned, and even the best people among the ensemble of elite killers would have died.
One also can’t ignore the biggest stroke of fortune experienced by any character in Bullet Train: Ladybug getting a comfy landing during the train crash courtesy of the mascot costume. After taking the weight of everyone’s bad luck throughout the film, the universe rewards him with survival. The question that remains, I suppose, is as to what fate is trying to say by destroying Maria Beetle’s car.
Bullet Train is now playing in theaters, and you can also watch CinemaBlend’s interviews with Brad Pitt, Brian Tyree Henry, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Hiroyuki Sanada. You can learn about all of the other films heading to the big screen in what remains of the year with our 2022 Movie Release Calendar.
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.