(director: David Leitch; screenwriter: Zak Olkewicz/from the book by Kotaro Isaka; cinematographer: Jonathan Sela; editor: Elisabet Ronaldsdottir; music: Dominic Lewis; cast: Brad Pitt (Ladybug), Bad Bunny (The Wolf), Logan Lerman (The Son), Hiroyuki Sanada (The Elder), Brian Tyree Henry (Lemon), Michael Shannon (White Death), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Tangerine), Andrew Koji (Kimura), Sandra Bullock (Maria Beetle), Masi Oka (Conductor), Zazie Beetz (The Hornet), Joey King (The Prince); Runtime: 126; MPAA Rating: R; producers: David Leitch/Antoine Fuqua/Kelly McCormick; Columbia Pictures; 2022)

“An intricate plot that never becomes clear.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

David Leitch (“Deadpool 2″/”Atomic Blonde”) does a poor job directing (the storytelling is told confusingly from reverse to beginning and has too much plot going on to make much sense). This overblown, messy and bloody comedy/action pic is written by Zak Olkewicz from the 2010 crime novel by Kōtarō Isaka. Zak provides dialogue meant to be funny but isn’t. The title is derived from the Japanese highspeed railway nicknamed the bullet train and from the action on the train.

At the hospital, Kimura (Andrew Koji) visits his unconscious only son (Logan Lerman), who was pushed off the roof of a building. Which leads to the telling of an intricate plot that never becomes clear. The Yakuza called The Elder (Hiroyuki Sanada) is the little boy’s grandfather.

In Japan is the hired American killer, the non-violent reformed by therapy hitman Ladybug (Brad Pitt), who has been sent by his unseen handler therapist, Beetle (Sandra Bullock), to Japan to get on a high-speed train en route from Tokyo to Kyoto and steal an aluminum briefcase. Other bad guys on the train are the Brit working-class brother killers, Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry), in possession of the briefcase, and at some point showing up is the Latin cartel killer gangster named the Wolf (rapper Bad Bunny, speaks no lines). Also present is a seemingly innocent young woman, Prince (Joey King), who proves to be a bad ass. Everyone mentioned is either connected to the briefcase or looking to kill someone who is. Our main protagonist Ladybug just wants to get the briefcase and split, but with the presence of those mentioned on the train that’s not likely (there’s also a venomous snake). Waiting at the last stop is the ruthless crime boss White Death (Michael Shannon).

There are multiple flashbacks meant to fill us in on the back story, but only confuses us more, as the inane film can never lucidly tie things together to tells us what it’s about.

Bullet Train