There are quirky characters on board this “Bullet Train” going from Tokyo to Kyoto, and I sincerely suggest that you take this ride! It’s a fast-moving two hours and 15 minutes with enough over-the-top action and about half a dozen assassins trying to do their job for a perfect summer movie choice.

Here’s the deal: these well-skilled killers for hire are trying to snag a briefcase stuffed with cash, and David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde”), a stuntman-turned-director, has crafted an exciting, beautifully choreographed game of hot potato, with Brad Pitt playing a self-deprecating character, Ladybug, dressed in a colorful bucket hat and oversize specs, as the lead. Ramping up the fun are actors Brian Tyree Henry (Lemon) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Tangerine) playing bickering “twin” hitmen, and Joey King (Prince) is an inventive killer who can toss in a fake cry on demand.

There are more interesting characters on the train, mixing it up like Hornet (Zazie Beetz) and the Wolf (Benito A. Martínez Ocasio, aka Bad Bunny) where they are hilariously identified using giant on-screen labels superimposed over their flash-frozen mugs.

The film is based on the novel “MariaBeetle” by Kotaro Isaka, and flips the story to scoop in a mostly Western cast; Leitch and screenwriter Zak Olkewicz took the opportunity to make all of the characters uniquely eccentric. I can only imagine what the Hollywood elevator pitch sounded like: “We’re going to turn this novel into ‘Snatch’ smashed into ‘Kill Bill’ but still on a moving bullet train but with Brad Pitt in a bucket hat!”

The voice in Pitt’s ear is Maria (Sandra Bullock) who is in charge of guiding the newly nonviolent killer through what’s supposed to be the easiest job of his long career. He’s literally only supposed to get on the bullet train in Tokyo, grab the case and get off at the next stop; that’s it. But Ladybug’s luck has changed from bad to worse with him now stuck on a train that’s packed with killers.

There are a few innocent people on the train but mostly it’s just backed by hungry and frustrated assassins who are happy to kill to get the briefcase, including using a poisonous boomslang snake, whose venom kills in 30 seconds, making victims bleed from their eyes.

Thank you director Leitch who keeps throwing deadly obstacles at Ladybug, a brash character who is great at improvising his way out of deadly situations. For action junkies, “Bullet Train” is pure eye candy. Kudos and hats-off to the clever fight scenes that feel original and fresh.

These killers are so focused on the task at hand that they don’t stop to ask why there are so many of them in one, vulnerable place. This is not a coincidence and it’s revealed that it’s an elaborate plan cooked up by the underworld boss, White Death (Michael Shannon) to avenge the death of his wife.

Stylistically, the inventive Leitch delivers a film packed with action and unexpected charm and laughs. Ten out of ten.

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