When John Wick’s co-director boards a movie a few high-speed practice full of assassins, sure issues are anticipated. Bullet-spraying brawls? Verify. Creatively choreographed set-pieces, shot with precision and readability? Verify. A charismatic A-lister’s motion comeback? Verify. But when Bullet Prepare’s set-up feels like ‘John Wick on rails’, David Leitch’s newest surprisingly isn’t that film — as an alternative, it continues his post-Wick trajectory into greater, splashier, extra cartoonish territory.
Following Deadpool 2 and Quick & Livid: Hobbs & Shaw, Leitch’s tongue stays lodged firmly in his cheek for a screwball summer season film with samurai swords and psycho killers — an ultraviolent farce. Like its transportation namesake, Bullet Prepare is quick, slick, and glossy — however that is much less intent on going immediately from A to B than it’s looping again round on itself in knots of coincidences and contrivances, as a cavalcade of contract killers conflict within the carriages. Assume Kill Invoice Vol. 1 filtered by way of early Man Ritchie, each for higher and worse.
Model over substance seems like the entire level right here, however Bullet Prepare solely ever operates on a floor stage.
Locked neatly into that free, aloof rhythm is Brad Pitt as ‘Ladybug’, a employed gun trying to observe mindfulness whereas (ah-ah-ah-ah) stayin’ alive (the movie opens with a Japanese-language cowl of that very Bee Gees track). However his seemingly easy job — hop on board, seize a silver briefcase, hop off — isn’t so easy, and he’s quickly beset by different hit-people with their very own overlapping agendas. Amongst them, Cockney duo Tangerine (Brian Tyree Henry, his accent veering between stellar and shaky) and Lemon (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, supremely satisfying), whose bickering conveys a real brotherhood; Joey King’s The Prince, who makes use of her youthful look as a weapon (amongst different precise weapons); Dangerous Bunny’s The Wolf, determined for vengeance; and Andrew Koji’s Yuichi, compelled into motion when his son’s life is threatened. Bullet Prepare’s major focus is setting them on criss-crossing tracks, flashing backwards and forwards to inform the story of their interlinked grievances because the our bodies pile excessive.
The outcomes are regularly enjoyable, particularly at any time when Pitt is on display – blow-drying his hair with a tricked-out Japanese bathroom, repeating his remedy mantras (“Harm individuals damage individuals”), and silently struggling with Lemon within the quiet carriage. His chemistry, too, with Sandra Bullock’s largely-offscreen handler is charming.
What it isn’t, in any method, is deep. Model over substance seems like the entire level right here (and the fashion itself is substantial), however Bullet Prepare solely ever operates on a floor stage — the screenplay’s explorations of surrendering to destiny versus trying to grab management really feel shallow at greatest. Plus, its appropriation of Japanese tradition feels uncomfortably tokenistic, revelling in East Asian iconography whereas presenting a sprawling forged of largely non-Asian actors, losing Karen Fukuhara and Masi Oka in bit-parts, and sidelining legends like Hiroyuki Sanada (caught talking in ‘Smart Previous Man’ tropes when he does enter the movie).
Anticipate a experience and nothing extra, although, and Bullet Prepare largely delivers — its excesses typically smug (an Engelbert Humperdinck murder-montage is overplayed), typically elegant (a bottle of water and a venomous snake get their very own intro-montages). Price a one-way ticket, if not a return journey.