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Brad's nightmare train journey hits the buffers: BRIAN VINER reviews Bullet Train 

Bullet train (15, 126 minutes)

Rating:

Verdict: Not worth getting in

The Japanese don’t do railroad strikes. Or at least, if they do, everything still runs on time – disgruntled staff just stop charging passengers for tickets.

But if ever there was a moment to wish for the abrupt cancellation of a service between Tokyo and Kyoto, it’s about ten minutes to Bullet Train.

The journey has barely started or there are serious signal problems. In particular, the signal that the screenplay was written by someone (Zak Olkewicz) with a sense of humor.

For example, an adult assassin (Brian Tyree Henry) turns out to be devoted to the Thomas the Tank Engine stories.

“Everything I’ve learned about people, I’ve learned from Thomas,” he says, and it’s clear we should all cherish the irony of a deadly hitman on a train traveling at 250 mph, citing to the wisdom of an anthropomorphic locomotive intended for five year olds.

If ever there was a moment to wish for the abrupt cancellation of a service between Tokyo and Kyoto, it's about ten minutes to Bullet Train

If ever there was a moment to wish for the abrupt cancellation of a service between Tokyo and Kyoto, it’s about ten minutes to Bullet Train

The joke, you see, is in the dissonance. Though when I say joke, I mean a burden, one that poor brave Henry is obliged to carry forward, way past the point where you’d want the Fat Controller to sit on him and deliver us all out of our misery.

To be fair to the writer, Olkewicz, he may have just lifted the ongoing Thomas gag from Kotaro Isaka’s novel on which this idiotic and uncomfortably violent comedy-action thriller is based.

Anyway, someone at Sony Pictures must have thought there was material here worthy of a real heavyweight cast, led by Brad Pitt, with Aaron Taylor-Johnson in support, and Michael Shannon, Channing Tatum, Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in cameos. .

Pitt plays a hit man codenamed Ladybug. His elaborate “joke” is that in temperament he is not a killer, but rather a sensitive bay. He wears a bucket hat to put even more distance between him and the standard movie representation of a hit man, though of course he’s as brazen as the script requires him to be.

Entering merry instructions into Ladybug’s earpiece is his own controller – a rather skinny one, it turns out, played by a largely invisible Bullock. She wants him to board the bullet train to Kyoto and bring a mysterious suitcase.

This assignment brings him into conflict with another pair of mercenaries played by Henry and Johnson, West Ham-supporting cockneys codenamed Lemon and Tangerine.

Let me add that I went to see this movie with my adult daughter on Tuesday night and she mentioned it

Let me add that I went to see this movie Tuesday night with my adult daughter and she called it “pretty fun.” There are certainly some excellent stunts. So just because it didn’t punch my ticket doesn’t mean it won’t punch yours

The latter, which looks and sounds remarkably like Eric Idle as his Monty Python nudge-nudge wink-wink character, also seems unfit for the murder industry, being extremely slow-witted. But he also turns out to be a kind of compound of James Bond and John Wick, making him a Bond who comes on your pit.

Anyway, these two suckers are on the train escorting the son of a terrifying mobster known as The White Death (Shannon).

Are you with me so far? If not, it doesn’t really matter. Other passengers include a sneaky schoolgirl killer (Joey King), a Mexican hit man named Wolf (the rapper Bad Bunny), and a Japanese martial arts expert (Andrew Koji) who wants to punish the person who threw his son off a high-rise building, the child in intensive care. to leave behind.

That’s not a storyline especially relevant to the plot, by the way, but its significance lies in the way it’s gleefully inserted into the script, as if we’re all completely desensitized to such a disturbing image.

As long as we know it’s for comedic effect, right?

Director David Leitch, who tries to do all this and largely fails, can be seen in Atomic Blonde (2017), Deadpool 2 (2018) and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) among others.

In other words, it is probably reasonable to assume that he is not a man heavily influenced by the merchant ivory canon. If there’s one notable influence in Bullet Train, it’s Guy Ritchie. Indeed, the extreme violence and tricky camera work, not to mention those two East End hitmen with their tense comedic chatter, made me check that I hadn’t missed Ritchie’s name on the bill.

Let me add that I went to see this movie Tuesday night with my adult daughter and she called it “pretty fun.” There are certainly some excellent stunts. So just because it didn’t punch my ticket doesn’t mean it won’t punch yours.

But compared to some of the great movie thrillers that have been set in whole or in part on trains over the years (The Lady Vanishes, Strangers On A Train, The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three), this one should never have left the track.

Also intended for comic effect, somewhere in the train a deadly snake is roaming around, so venomous that you bleed from every opening after being bitten. To some of us, that seems like a pretty decent metaphor for the movie itself.

Also to see

predator vs. Comanche turns out to be a surprising hit

Prey

Rating: 1659660927 646 Brad039s nightmare train journey hits the buffers BRIAN VINER reviews

Our Eternal Summer

Rating: 1659660927 646 Brad039s nightmare train journey hits the buffers BRIAN VINER reviews

Predator, such a mighty, steam-rolling vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger, seemed very out of its time when it came out in 1987, directed by Die Hard’s John McTiernan.

But it spawned a franchise that is still going strong, and its latest incarnation, a prequel to the other four films, is Prey (99 Minutes), which is set in the early 18th century on Comanche territory.

If you’re a Predator fan, you’ll probably find this a worthy addition, although I can imagine what Arnie thinks about the direct-to-streaming release. Native American actress Amber Midthunder dominates the story as Naru, a daring young hunter desperate to prove her worth to the doubting men of the tribe.

Most of the cast is Native American, by the way, which is admirable, but raises a question about the dialogue, which is full of modern white colloquialism. ‘Who invited you?’ a haughty male warrior sneers when Naru shows up on a hunting expedition, a rule that could have been lifted from any 21st-century high school drama.

Native American actress Amber Midthunder dominates the story as Naru, a daring young hunter desperate to prove her worth to the doubting men of the tribe.

Native American actress Amber Midthunder dominates the story as Naru, a daring young hunter desperate to prove her worth to the doubting men of the tribe.

It turns out that casual sexism is the least of Naru’s problems. She can throw a tomahawk with impeccable accuracy, but there are growling mountain lions to fight with, and hostile French trappers, and of course, most defiantly of all, a translucent killer alien.

Director Dan Trachtenberg does a good job leading up to a thrilling finale, dressing up as his skilled cinematographer, Jeff Cutter, who collaborated with Trachtenberg on his stellar feature debut, 2016’s 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Another feature film debut, Our Eternal Summer (72 min.) is a French film in which a bunch of carefree adolescents, doing all the things virile French teenagers do in the film, are abruptly snatched from their innocence when one of them drowns off a Mediterranean beach. after an ill-advised night dive.

At barely an hour and a quarter of an hour, Emilie Aussel’s admirably concise film is mainly about the grief, guilt and reproaches that follow this tragedy.

It’s basically a coming-of-age story, sensibly keeping adults out of the picture and very nicely acted by a group of first-timers.

Prey is available on Disney+. Our Eternal Summer is on Mubi.

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