Before you go out and read the novel the movie Bullet Train is based on, check out my review here at borg from last year.  Perhaps the English edition is a poor translation of Kotaro Isaka’s novel Maria Beetle, but I’m thinking it’s just simply a dry novel with a good title.  Either way, for a title like Bullet Train, it was lacking in many ways.  Happily, the first trailer for the movie adaptation starring Brad Pitt looks nothing like the novel, which was an homage to Thomas the Tank Engine cartoons (seriously!).  In the movie trailer Pitt appears like he’s stepping back into the role of Cliff Booth, that badass brawler from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (who was even better in Quentin Tarantino’s novel than in the film) So the good news is director David Leitch, known for actual action content like Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, Hobbs & Shaw, and John Wick, seems to be disregarding the book and focusing on what audiences would expect from that title: a big action movie.

Full of style and color (and action!) backed by a Japanese version of the BeeGees’ Staying Alive–check out the trailer for Bullet Train:

Yes, it looks like that social commentary and metaphor of Snowpiercer has been cast aside and only a thin thread of the novel is carried forward: There’s a package on a train, and several factions collide to acquire it.  The novel lacked wit, cleverness, twists and turns, and humor, which–if this trailer is a good indication–seems to be in ample supply in the movie.  (Phew!)  Hopefully it’s more like The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, Unstoppable, or Source Code than its source material.  Bullet Train, the novel, took a roundabout approach to a pile of criminal acts, a strange incident of two boys used as leverage by a group of criminals who all find themselves on a high-speed train across Japan, a train that really only serves to incorporate the writer’s obvious fanaticism for Thomas and Friends train cartoons into an endless string of analogies.  Somewhere inside the novel is that thread about a missing bag of money–used as a true MacGuffin–and an attempt to foil a kidnapping, and another attempt to use a man’s son as hostage.  And a Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum who can’t keep track of the package.  That thread may be enough to create a Brad Pitt star vehicle around.

Joining Pitt are Joey King, Sandra Bullock, Michael Shannon, Zazie Beetz, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Logan Lerman, and the actor that goes by the name Bad Bunny (as with Edge of Tomorrow this English adaptation of a Japanese novel has replaced the key Japanese characters with American movie stars).  Japanese actors Masi Oka, Andrew Koji, and Hiroyuki Sanada round out the cast.

It’s a shame the movie marketers didn’t have that soundtrack with the Stayin’ Alive cover ready for the release of this trailer, or they would made some serious money this week.  Look for Bullet Train in theaters July 15, 2022.

C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg