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Bullet Train Reviews Are In, See What Critics Are Saying About The Brad Pitt Action Comedy

Brad Pitt in Bullet Train.
(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

The new satirical action comedy Bullet Train certainly took a long time to get here. Based on the novel by Kōtarō Isaka, which was published in Japan with the title Maria Beetle, the movie from director David Leitch went into production back in October 2020. That means there’s been a lot of excitement building for this blockbuster, with Bullet Train boasting an A-list cast that includes Brad Pitt, Zazie Beetz, Brian Tyree Henry, Sandra Bullock, Lady Gaga and more. With the release finally upon us, let’s take a look at what critics are saying about the film.

When CinemaCon audiences got an extended look at Bullet Train, they were wowed by the action sequences, and — as we saw from the exchange between Brian Tyree-Henry and Brad Pitt in the trailer — this movie promises to bring the laughs as well. Let’s get into the reviews, starting with CinemaBlend’s review of Bullet Train. Eric Eisenberg rates the movie 3.5 stars out of 5, saying that Brad Pitt exhibits a palpable joy in his role as the assassin Ladybug. The story gets a little chaotic, the review says, but it comes together as a fun puzzle:

Bullet Train doesn’t aim to revolutionize hitman movies, but instead plays with a tongue-in-cheek vibe that lets you recognize the tropes and appreciate how the film plays with them. It’s a slick/goofy action movie that is both contained and wild, and a satisfying late summer release.

Peter Debruge of Variety says the movie is a fun-enough ride, if not particularly deep, as it tries really hard to capture Quentin Tarantino vibes. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry are likable as Tangerine and Lemon, respectively, and the fight scenes can be appreciated for the choreography:

The fight scenes feel relatively original, which is impressive unto itself, considering how many other creative filmmakers there are trying to distinguish themselves in the genre. Leitch tends to approach these standoffs the way Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire once did their dance numbers: The violence needn’t be taken literally (which is tough at times, considering how brutal the bloodshed can be), but rather appreciated mostly for their choreography and capacity to surprise.

Paul Bradshaw of NME rates it an average 3 out of 5 stars, saying that Brad Pitt powers this action flick, while the other assassins aboard struggle to keep up. It’s a fun ride, but not as fun as it thinks it is, this critic says:

As the twists keep coming (and as even more famous faces keep popping up), Bullet Train starts losing momentum. Crashing headlong into a sloppy CGI ending and backtracking once too many over all the obvious reveals, the film runs out of rail a long time before it stops moving. On the other hand, it’s almost impossible not to enjoy every moment that Pitt is on screen. Stealing the film with whatever he’s given (a water bottle, a bucket hat, an automatic toilet…), he’s clearly having a great time. It’s lucky for us that at least some of it rubs off.

Mentions of the movie going “off the rails” are to be expected in reviews for a movie about a train. However, Deadline’s Pete Hammond argues Bullet Train was never on the rails to begin with, saying the movie is so wild it’s basically a live-action animation:

None of the characters, Pitt’s included, remotely resembles actual human beings but they give it the old college try. Still, movies tend to work best when the characters have some semblance of credible relation to actual living people. This one doesn’t seem to care one whit, going for laughs instead. Aside from the star whose natural charisma carries him through as well as his too often underused comedic talents , it is Henry who is the most watchable even if his Lemon must profess allegiance to a children’s book Thomas The Tank Engine as his guide to life.

David Ehrlich of IndieWire grades the movie a C, agreeing with other critics that while the movie itself isn’t great, Brad Pitt’s joy is radiant enough to convince viewers they’re having fun too. From the review:

Bullet Train may be going nowhere fast, but Pitt always seems like he’s already there, safe in the knowledge that we’ll happily watch him smile through all the chaos that crashes around him (including two standout cameos, one which nails an actor’s star power, and another which completely misapprehends it). Pitt’s stardom has never been more obvious, and it shines bright enough here for everything else to get lost in the glare.

If this movie feels like something you must experience this summer, you can check it out in theaters beginning Friday, August 5. In the meantime, check out what else we know about Bullet Train, as well as other upcoming projects from Brad PItt. You can also start planning your next trip to the theater by checking out our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to see what else is coming soon.

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.