‘A bomb-tastic comedy of errors’ – critics can't make up their minds on Bullet Train

Zazie Beets and Brad Pitt brawling in Bullet Train
(Image credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment)

The first reviews for the Brad Pitt-starring Bullet Train have surfaced online – and critics are fairly unanimous in their appraisal of director David Leitch’s high-speed action romp. 

Based on the novel Maria Beetle (published in English as Bullet Train) by Kōtarō Isaka, the movie follows Pitt’s quick-witted assassin, Ladybug, as he fights off a group of mercenaries all vying for the same prize aboard the fictional Nippon Speed Line.

Joining Pitt on the treacherous locomotive are Michael Shannon, Sandra Bullock, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Zazie Beetz, Hiroyuki Sanada and many more A-listers – making Bullet Train one of the most anticipated new movies of 2022. It’s scheduled to hit theaters globally on August 5, and the reviews are beginning to pour in. 

Let’s kick off with Variety’s Peter Debruge, who described Bullet train as “a cartoonishly over-the-top action movie, in which half a dozen assassins shoot, stab and otherwise perforate each other’s pretty little faces in pursuit of a briefcase stuffed with cash.”

Total Film’s Paul Bradshaw echoed that sentiment, writing that the movie has “too many twists and tropes to let it sneak into first class, but the mix of cast, comedy and carnage ensure a zippy, enjoyable ride.”

Collider’s Maggie Lovett was a little more complimentary in her assessment, tweeting that Bullet Train is a “bomb-tastic comedy of errors designed to invigorate, entertain, and astound. Heart-pumping (and stopping) action is set to a kickass soundtrack that will leave you vibrating with excitement.”

See more

IndieWire’s chief film critic, David Ehrlich, was quick to denounce the film’s overall quality, but praised Pitt’s turn as its charismatic and surprisingly funny lead: “Bullet Train is not a good movie,” he wrote, “but the fun that radiates off Brad Pitt is magnetic enough to convince you that you're having fun, too.”

“Not a good movie” rings similar to the opinion of Empire’s Ben Travis, who said of the film: “Style over substance feels like the whole point here, but Bullet Train only ever operates on a surface level [...] Worth a one-way ticket, if not a return journey.”

And finally, notable film critic Courtney Howard summed up Bullet Train with a simple but vivid comparison, describing the movie as “Pulp Fiction on a train with a few leftover bits from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”

So there you have it, folks. Sony’s Brad Pitt star vehicle sounds like an undoubtedly enjoyable but largely unremarkable time at the movies. No John Wick – but no Morbius, either. Bullet Train speeds into theaters worldwide on August 5.

Axel Metz
Senior Staff Writer

Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.