The oddest aspect of the Deadpool film franchise’s popularity is that its whole style of humor is a dusty relic from the late 1990s when “snark” had yet to become a common name. How did something so archaic connect with a modern audience? I got a similar thought when watching Bullet Train, directed by Deadpool 2’s David Leitch (in cinemas on August 5). Almost every humor in this laborious action flick is a wheezy throwback to a post-Tarantino era when manufactured meta-commentary reigned supreme.
“The film is based on Ktar Isaka’s renowned and respected Japanese novel. However, scriptwriter Zak Olkewicz—as well as the performers under Leitch’s command—have made significant alterations. The resultant picture is an unending jumble of tics, asides, and rejoinders that pile up alongside the victims, arguably more repulsive than the film’s lugubrious gore.”
“Brad Pitt portrays Ladybug, a semi-reformed criminal-for-hire, which is obviously a joke since why would a guy be nicknamed something so delicate and feminine? He’s taken a break from his job to seek clarity and improvement via self-help reading and counseling.”
“Bullet Train treats this as a novel practice as if it were a 1970s comedy about neurotic New Yorkers. Ladybug only wants to do his job—retrieving a briefcase aboard the titular vehicle—and go on with his life. However, there are other mysterious creatures aboard the train who will stop him.”
“Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry (the latter with a twisted British accent) are vicious assassin siblings called Tangerine and Lemon—again, amusing names for tough guys! Lemon is infatuated with Thomas the Tank Engine, a recurring joke from the novel that should have been cut from the film. It’s horrible humor that comes up again and again, one of many instances of Bullet Train attempting sideways erudition and falling horribly flat.”
“Bullet Train is an obnoxious example of filmmaker vanity, a tribute (to films like Kill Bill) that plays like a shoddy knockoff. By the end of the film, all of the employees who work on the train have vanished to unknown locations. Perhaps they assessed their passengers’ shaky behavior and decided it wasn’t worth their effort. You’d be prudent to take their lead.”