Bullet Train” is rated R (strong and bloody violence, pervasive language, and brief sexuality) with a runtime of 2 hours, 6 minutes

Monday, “Bullet Train” premiered at the TLC Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, giving critics the chance to review the film before it premieres across the country on Aug. 5. Brad Pitt stars as an assassin named Ladybug attempting to retrieve a briefcase from a bullet train hurtling through Tokyo. His hopes of an uneventful gig are dashed by a train filled with other quirky, irreverent killers.

Given the action in the movie, it may come as no surprise that director David Leitch was a stuntman; formerly Brad Pitt’s double in “Fight Club” (1999) and other films. He has worked his way up in the industry directing “Atomic Blonde” (2017), “Deadpool 2” (2018) and co-directing the first “John Wick” (2014) with Chad Stahelski.

The reviews promise little in the way of cinema’s finer qualities, instead focusing on fight choreography and creativity in the methods used to dispatch assailants. Zak Olkewicz adapted the screenplay from Kôtarô Isaka’s popular novel of the same name.

What critics are saying

David Ehrlich from IndieWire:

  • “‘Bullet Train’ is not a good film, but Pitt is having a truly palpable amount of fun in it.”
  • “A Hollywood action movie so mindless and star-driven that it’s almost impossible to imagine how it started as a book.”
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Ann Hornaday from The Washington Post:

  • “If you’re craving one more variation on the well-worn theme of promiscuous bloodlettings accompanied by glib verbal filler, Leitch has served up a presentable slab of grist for an increasingly creaky mill.”
  • “It has the feel of a movie concocted in a hermetically sealed Hollywood lab.”

Richard Roeper from The Chicago SunTimes:

  • “The entire supporting cast is terrific, with Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson particularly outstanding as Lemon and Tangerine.”
  • “Screenwriter Zak Olkewicz has crafted an exceedingly clever script that manages to create complete story arcs for more than a half-dozen characters.”

Peter DeBruge from Variety:

  • “A ‘Kill Bill’-level mix of martial arts, manga and gabby hit-man-movie influences, minus the vision or wit that implies.”
  • “It’s essentially a live-action cartoon, with high-profile cameos sprinkled in for added laughs.”


Most reviews have been echoing similar sentiments — Brad Pitt is fun to watch, and “Bullet Train” is a mindlessly stimulating action movie. It follows in the wake of Netflix’s $200 million bet “The Gray Man,” as more companies invest in marketable, flashy movies that are sure to bring audiences into theaters.

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