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

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

High-speed train (15, 126 minutes)

Evaluation:

Verdict: Not worth the boarding

The Japanese don’t go on rail strikes. Or at least when they do, everything always 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 from the Bullet Train.

The trip has barely started when there are serious signal problems. Specifically, the signal that the screenplay was written by someone (Zak Olkewicz) with a fourth form sense of humor.

Thus, a grown-up assassin (Brian Tyree Henry) turns out to be devoted to the stories of Thomas the Tank Engine.

“Everything I learned about people, I learned from Thomas,” he says, and it’s clear we’re all meant to cherish the irony of a deadly hitman in a speeding train. 250 mph citing the wisdom of an anthropomorphized locomotive destined for a five-year-old.

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

The joke, you see, is in the dissonance. Though when I say joking I mean a burden, a burden that poor valiant Henry is forced to carry forward, far beyond the point at which you’d wish the fat controller would sit on him and get us all out of our misery.

To be fair to the writer, Olkewicz, maybe he just lifted Thomas’ gag from Kotaro Isaka’s novel on which this silly and obnoxiously violent comedy-action thriller is based.

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

Pitt plays a hitman named Ladybug. His extended “joke” is that he is not a killer by temperament, instead being a sensitive cove. He’s wearing a bucket hat to put even more distance between him and the standard film portrayal of an assassin, though of course he’s as brutal as the script demands.

Powering offhand instructions in Ladybug’s earpiece is its own controller – a rather skinny one, it transpires, played by a mostly invisible Bullock. She wants him to board the bullet train to Kyoto and snatch a mysterious briefcase.

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

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

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

The latter, looking and sounding remarkably like Eric Idle as his Monty Python “nudge-nudge wink-wink” character, also seems unsuited to the murder case, being slow-witted in the extreme. But he, too, turns out to be something of a James Bond and John Wick composite, making him a Bond that gets on your wick.

Either way, these two dorks are on the train escorting the son of a fearsome gangster known as The White Death (Shannon).

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

It’s not a particularly plot-relevant scenario, by the way, but its significance lies in the way it’s blithely inserted into the storyline, as if we could all be completely impervious to such a distressing image.

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

Director David Leitch, whose credits include Atomic Blonde (2017), Deadpool 2 (2018) and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019), tries and largely fails to make it all cohesive.

In other words, it’s probably fair to assume that he’s 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 camerawork, not to mention those two East End hitmen with their tense comedic banter, made me double check that I hadn’t missed Ritchie’s name on the ‘attach.

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

But compared to some of the great cinematic thrillers set entirely or partially 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 tracks. garage.

Also intended for comic effect, somewhere on the train is a deadly snake loose, so venomous it makes you bleed from every orifice after being bitten. To some of us, that seems like a pretty decent metaphor for the movie itself.

Also showing

Predator vs. Comanche turns out to be a surprise success

Prey

Evaluation:

our eternal Summer

Evaluation:

Predator, such a powerful and rolling vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger, seemed very much of its time when it was released in 1987, directed by Die Hard’s John McTiernan.

But it spawned a franchise that continues to grow, and the latest incarnation, a prequel to the other four films, is Prey (99 minutes), set in Comanche territory in the early 18th century.

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

Incidentally, most of the actors are Native American, which is admirable but raises a question about the dialogue, which is replete with modern white man colloquialisms. ‘Who invited you?’ a haughty warrior sneers when Naru shows up on a hunting expedition, a line that could have been drawn 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 doubting tribesmen.

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

It turns out that casual sexism is the least of Naru’s problems. She can throw a tomahawk with unerring precision, but there are snarling mountain lions to contend with, hostile French fur trappers and, of course, the toughest of them all, a translucent killer alien.

Director Dan Trachtenberg does a decent job of preparing for a thrilling finale and speaks to his talented cinematographer, Jeff Cutter, who worked with Trachtenberg on the latter’s terrific feature debut, 10 Cloverfield Lane in 2016.

Another feature debut, Our Eternal Summer (72 mins) is a French film in which a bunch of carefree teenagers, doing everything manly French teenagers do in the movies, are suddenly ripped off their innocence when one of their own noie Mediterranean beach after an ill-advised night swim.

Lasting barely an hour and a quarter, Emilie Aussel’s admirably concise film deals mainly with the grief, guilt and recriminations that follow this drama.

It’s a coming-of-age story, really, that noticeably keeps the adults away and is performed very well by a group of newbies.

Prey is available on Disney+. Our eternal summer is on Mubi.

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