Brad Pitt stars in a thrill ride – The Hollywood Reporter

The original work of a series of directors comes to mind when watching High speed train, among them were Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Guy Ritchie, Joe Carnahan and Timur Bekmambetov. The difference is that those filmmakers have mostly moved on from this kind of assault bloodbath, which numbs you with the onslaught of dark comedy, escalating carnage and excessive gore. David Leitch’s director credits – Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, Hobbs & Shaw – remains tied to his stunt background, sometimes with entertaining results. But his latest work is so busy delivering violent action with a smug wink that plot twists and characters in a single note become really boring fast. fast.

Leitch has taken on the role of Brad Pitt’s stunt double multiple times, so there’s a certain symmetry in him leading a movie that relies heavily on the star’s irresistible charisma. But even Pitt making a cool-looking bucket hat couldn’t rescue the laborious adaptation of Kotaro Isaka’s 2010 novel. Maria BeetleWritten by Zak Olkewicz.

Key point

High octane bore.

Release date: Friday, August 5
Cast: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Benito A Martinez Ocasio, Sandra Bullock
Manager: David Leitch
Writer: Zak Olkewicz, based on the novel Maria Beetleby Kotaro Isaka

R-rated, 2 hours 6 minutes

Unlike the book, in which all the assassins who find themselves with different purposes on the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto are Japanese, most of the main characters have had an international makeover, caused an online outcry against bleaching. Core members of the creative team, including the novelist, have defended the cast choices, maintaining that realism is not a big factor in setting or characters. But perhaps the key is that it’s only when the reliably attractive Hiroyuki Sanada steps up to play a key role in the climactic action that anyone on screen gets a sense of depth.

It’s a thriller about family, fate, and fortune, where the issues are resolved by the extreme comic nature of the storytelling. High speed train begins with distraught father Kimura (Andrew Koji), a low-ranking criminal, standing on a hospital bed where his young son rests on a life support after being pushed from the roof of a building. Sanada plays the boy’s grandfather, identified only as The Elder (like all the other characters, with bilingual on-screen text), a stern man of protest who dictates His drunken son takes revenge and restores the family’s honor.

That core story may be mired in the most stereotypes of Asian cinema, but it doesn’t deserve to be blatantly set aside by Pitt’s character, whose agent’s name is Ladybug, running along. the streets of Tokyo to a Japanese cover of “Alive.” Convinced that she has terrible luck, leading to frequent unplanned deaths during her quests, Ladybug is a recent transformational therapy. determined to resolve the conflict peacefully, but his manager (Sandra Bullock, not seen until near the end) convinces him amid the controversy to return to work, get a briefcase from a bullet train.

His mission becomes more complicated than expected when it overlaps with the work of two British assassins named Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry), undisguised brawlers their lifelong fraternal relationship. On board is The Prince (Joey King), a second generation killer who skillfully uses his innocent schoolgirl appearance to disarm his enemies. Hornet (Zazie Beetz) is a poison expert who spends most of his action in incognito mode. One of her victims, The Wolf (Benito A Martinez Ocasio, aka rapper Bad Bunny), boarded the ship to avenge the loss of his wife during their wedding in Mexico. And also a deadly snake, stolen from the zoo.

Ladybug continues her personal development efforts, empathizing with dangerous enemies by offering lame maxims such as “Hurting people hurts people”. But he shared his pain, as did others, on his way to Kyoto, where the terrifying Russian underworld boss known as the White Death (Michael Shannon) awaits them all. with his team of assassins.

It’s upsetting to see so many talented actors being used so poorly. Even if it’s a bit amusing to watch Henry, in a working-class London accent, break down Lem’s professional encounters according to the principals learned from Thomas tank engine Children’s books, jokes are labor. Pitt laughs happily as his hair dries quickly thanks to the air-drying function on the automatic toilet. But mostly the writing tries too hard to allow for the kind of easy comedic character that the actor does best.

Likewise, suspenseful action and messy plot mechanics are devised to bring everyone together. Leitch, cinematographer Jonathan Sela, and a team of stunt actors do a viable job of staging dynamic fights in the cramped compartments of trains, with gun violence, knife and sword play, and the use of weapons. weaponize anything else, from a laptop to a water bottle to a giant mascot. But for a movie with so much physical upheaval and bruised punishment, there’s an inertia about the whole thing, a lifelessness that makes everyone smugly sneer. We don’t care who gets crushed or shot to pieces because there’s no single character to base on – the good guy or the bad guy.

There are, of course, the required drops of satire, including “Holding Out for a Hero” in Japanese, the early ’60s pop crossover hit “Sukiyaki” and tracks by Englebert Humperdinck and Peter, Paul and Mary. And there were the guests – the big names that weren’t recognized to be added to the already-qualified group. One of them, playing the root of much trouble, who dropped out of the quest to go to Ladybug, was obviously whining so much that you wonder how we escaped with so little of him. After another two hours, you can think of escaping, unless you are smart enough to dodge this bullet.

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