Bullet Train

Sony

After honing his action movie-making skills with John Wick, Atomic Blonde, and Deadpool 2, stuntman-turned-director David Leitch has levelled up with the star-studded ensemble Bullet Train.

The action-comedy, based on the Japanese novel Maria Beetle, stars Brad Pitt as Ladybug, an assassin who has been doing work on himself and has reached a place of inner peace. He accepts a job from his handler Maria (voiced by Sandra Bullock) as it seems simple and doesn't require him to get his hands dirty - all he needs to do is board the bullet train in Tokyo, find a briefcase and leave at the next stop.

As you might expect, the job turns out to be very complicated and dangerous. There are other assassins on board - brothers Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and "innocent" young girl Prince (Joey King) - and they all want the same briefcase before the end of the line in Kyoto.

If you're in the mood for silly, ridiculous action that breaks the laws of physics then Bullet Train will be right up your street. It doesn't take itself seriously at all and is a lot of fun to watch. The screenplay is crammed full of jokes, one-liners, and witty banter (particularly between the brothers) and there is plenty of cool stunt choreography too.

However, the film has a lot of ideas and they don't always gel or work together seamlessly. It's not as slick and smooth as it would like to be - it's shaky and all over the place.

At 126 minutes, it also outstays its welcome and is about 20 minutes longer than it needs to be. The film often cuts away from the train action to show a flashback or an aside and while these can be amusing, they are overused and interrupt the flow of the central narrative. Plus, there are some serious and dramatic moments within the movie and these feel weird given the silly vibe elsewhere.

The star of the show is easily Taylor-Johnson - his potty-mouth Cockney character is hilarious and his banter and chemistry with Henry is highly entertaining. Henry is fun but his British accent is unfortunately very patchy, as is King's.

Pitt looks like he's having the best time making this movie and you can't help but feel joy watching him execute cool stunts, reel off his self-help nonsense, and be generally quite goofy.

They are joined by a star-studded cast which also includes the likes of Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Bad Bunny, and Zazie Beetz - and there are a couple of top-secret cameos to keep an eye out for too.

It's a shame a film so promising as Bullet Train is such a mixed bag. It doesn't work as well as should but at least it's still enjoyable to watch.

In cinemas from Wednesday 3rd August.