Preview–Bullet Train: The Art and Making of the Film

Review by C.J. Bunce

When you’ve read and reviewed hundreds of movie art and behind-the-scenes books, you’re always looking for something new.  Sometimes that’s a shift in the latest technology, sometimes the film is explained in ways you didn’t actually see on the screen, sometimes it’s just an appreciation for the art production in the film, sometimes it’s how automated the making of movies is getting.  In the new Bullet Train: The Art and Making of the Film, a full-color hardcover coffee table-style book available for pre-order here at Amazon, you’ll see a bit of it all.  Digging into getting the production off the ground through the casting process, to selecting set locations, building sets, and filming during a pandemic, readers will get inside knowledge on creating the latest big-budget action movie.

Take a look inside below.

Writer Abbie Bernstein has taken readers through the making of several movies and films, including Midnight Mass, Altered Carbon, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Alita: Battle Angel, Justice League, Orphan Black, and The Great Wall Each of these pushed the ball forward as it relates to the complexity and craft of the moving image.  Like Midnight Mass, Bullet Train had the added challenge of being created during the pandemic.  So readers will find co-stars Joey King, Brian Tyree Henry, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Zazie Beetz discussing not only their impressions and approach they took to building their characters, but readers will also see what kind of an impact that had on film-making.

Although Bullet Train has something in common with action movies like 6 Underground, Red Notice, and Uncharted, you might be surprised how much it had in common with the horror-action flick Zach Snyder’s Army of the Dead.  Beginning with a director, David Leitch, whose spouse, Kelly McCormack, was a producer, just as Snyder co-created his film with producer Deborah Snyder.  These husband-wife team-ups always seem to reflect productions that are more likely to take risks, but also be indulgent.  This is movie set on a train based on a movie where there is no train crash.  But it’s a train movie from Hollywood and the final result has a train crash.  More insight into the differences between the novel and film are provided by the novel’s adapter, screenplay writer Zac Olkewicz (Fear Street 1978).

As for changing technologies in the industry, the film relied heavily on digital visual effects and a series of LD screens similar to Disney’s Volume.  But it did incorporate practical effects with its three full-sized train cars, each fully accessible and expandable to allow filming from all angles, including removable walls and ceilings.

Leitch is well known first for his stunt work before directing films, which is reflected in the quality of the stunt choreography in the movie.  Bullet Train: The Art and Making of the Film includes some storyboards and even more concept art, but it best spotlights each set piece.  What you may forget is how much of the movie is told in backstory–laid out section by section it looks like more than half of the shoots were away from the train.  Think about the Wolf’s wedding ceremony scene, the elaborate kill-count sequence with the Twins, and the Russian’s arrival to take over the gang–just for starters.

A nice component you won’t typically find in these books is a character study showing a layout of all their key props.  Along with costume ideas and production history, this over-sized hardcover book also is filled with hundreds of photographs.

Ticking the boxes as both a book for fans of the movie and revealing how it was made, Bullet Train: The Art and Making of the Film delivers exactly what you’d want and expect.  Bullet Train arrived in theaters July 15, 2022, but is now streaming on Netflix.  Pre-order Bullet Train: The Art and Making of the Film now here at Amazon, which states it will be delivered in time for Christmas.



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