TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — "Bullet Train" is one of the rare action comedies that lives up to the pace and tone of its trailer. The movie surges off the rails, fueled by a boundlessly clever script and pitch-perfect performances.
Director David Leitch flexes some of his "Deadpool 2" muscles, crafting an airtight narrative paced with constant witticisms and dry turns of phrase. "Bullet Train" pulses with Quentin Tarantino-style pop culture riffs, coupled with clever use of music and stunning fight choreography. Fans of "Kill Bill" will find much to relish here.
At the epicenter is Brad Pitt, embracing his best role since he teamed with Tarantino in "Once Upon a Time in America." Effusing cool amid the chaos, he spouts of smarmy asides, twisted aphorisms and deadpan bemusement.
Pitt plays an assassin who's attempting to reform, accepting what seems to be an easy snatch-and-grab job to seize a briefcase from a Japanese train. As with all cinematic "One Last Jobs," though, things aren't quite so simple. The train seems to be packed with rival assassins with vendettas against him, one another and the shadowy hand that seems to be manipulating everyone.
Also making stark impressions are Joey King, fresh off "The Princess," as a dynamic femme fatale and Bad Bunny as wildcard assassin The Wolf. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree-Henry channel the John Travolta-Samuel L. Jackson "Pulp Fiction" dynamic as codenamed killers Lemon and Tangerine.
There are also loads of cameos from big stars that make for double-take surprises. The less you know about who's in the film, the more impact the cameos register.
Bursting with improbable recoveries, heart-stopping combat and unexpected twists, "Bullet Train" is a one-way express train to cinematic bliss. On this ride, you punch your ticket and the ticket punches back.
RATING: 3 stars out of 4.
Watched Thursday night at Harkins Tucson Spectrum Cine One.
Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star. He is married and has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.