It’s totally jaded after watching the trailer a dozen times and being aware that early reviews were divided that I’ve been seeing Bullet Train in theaters since Thursday. To my surprise, I spent one of the most beautiful movie nights of my summer.
The film tells the totally deranged story of a hit man, Ladybug (Brad Pitt), who is hired to retrieve a mysterious briefcase from a bullet train traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto.
All goes well until Ladybug realizes he’s not the only killer looking for the briefcase…
It is very simplistic to summarize the film with these two short sentences. The truth is that the plot is much more complex. Question of reserving the pleasure of discovering the many surprises of the scenario, I will therefore not tell you more.
High Speed Train is a David Leitch film based on a novel by Japanese writer Kôtarô Isaka. Leitch is a former stuntman turned filmmaker who excels at filming perfectly choreographed fight scenes. We owe him in particular Deadpool 2 (2018), John Wick (2014) and Atomic Blonde (2017).
Trust for trust, I’m not a big fan of this kind of cinema, which glorifies violence and whose script is almost always youthful.
Fortunately, in this new opus, Leitch has struck the right balance between action, humor and suspense, all embedded in a well-constructed (albeit imperfect) story full of twists and turns.
Leitch’s film is, of course, a well-made action comedy, but it’s also so much more than that… It’s actually a work that looks like a Frankenstein monster with its components of different origins.
The camera is reminiscent of Snakes on the Plane (2006). The witty humor copies that of The Suicide Squad (2021). The satirical tone is taken from Robocop (1987). The villain looks like a copy (a little pale) of the legendary Keyser Soze from The Usual Suspects (1995). The visual style is modeled after Kick-Ass (2010). And the abundance of hemoglobin seems to be borrowed from Kill Bill (2003).
The best moments of the film, however, are those with Brad Pitt.
At 59 (yes, ladies), Pitt has lost none of his charisma. On the contrary. He offers one of the funniest performances of his career, his good nature is somewhat reminiscent of that of Jack Sparrow in the first films of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga. His constant reliance on highly clichéd advice from his therapist is delightfully burlesque.
Speaking of delicious, the duo of Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry is absolutely hilarious. The former’s stoicism is hilarious, while the latter’s fascination with Thomas the Train is sublimely mocking.
I’ve stopped counting the number of times I laughed blissfully at this injection of irreverent humor.
An action movie that doesn’t take itself seriously, Bullet Train is a lot more cerebral than it looks. This mix between Deadpool (2016) and Taken (2008) easily stands out as some of the best entertainment of the summer.
(Four out of five stars)
It’s not okay
Zoey Deutch, in a scene from It’s Not OK (Disney+). – Politeness
In the age of social media, it’s easier than ever to get your five minutes of fame. A fact revealed in the satirical comedy It’s not OK (Not Okay; Disney+). Unfortunately, reality has long surpassed fiction…
Danni (Zoey Deutch, pictured) is a casual and rather awkward young woman. She has no friends and takes very little care of herself. Subaltern in the photography department of New York magazine Depravity, she dreams of becoming a writer.
One day, to impress a colleague, she announces on social media that she has been selected to participate in a writing retreat in Paris. Using fake photos, she documents her fictional journey to the City of Light online.
Then disaster strikes. Paris is the scene of terrorist attacks in which several people are killed. Concerned for her well-being, Danni’s colleagues and family contact her. Instead of admitting to the deception, the young woman adds, saying that she saw all the attacks and barely got away with it.
His bosses at Depravity then offered to tell him about his experience in the pages of the magazine. The article goes viral and Danni becomes a media sensation. From one day to the next, her life turns into a fairy tale. But how long can she live a lie?
It’s not OK carries the deep desire of an entire generation that, like Danni, wishes “to be loved and to be noticed”.
In what is her first commercial feature film, director and screenwriter Quinn Shephard gleefully pokes fun at society’s tendency to create fake idols and believe everything reported on social media.
We suspect Shephard wants to do satire. The story of this girl who says she survived an attack is too exaggerated to be true, isn’t it? But is she really THAT over the top? A little detour on Twitter, for example, will convince you that Danni’s audacity is just a drop in a sea of individuals willing to stoop to inventing something for the sole purpose of getting attention. Politicians from the far right are the champions of the universe in this area.
It’s not OK and that’s why it doesn’t shock as much as the creators would have liked. It just reminds us that every day we live a little more in a society where the “likes” and the number
subscribers are more valuable to our youth than a big hug, a pat on the back or heartfelt words of encouragement.
A comedy that will make you laugh…
(Two and a half out of five stars)
Melissa Barrera plays Liv, a woman trapped in the woods, in the series Breathe (Netflix). – Politeness
In my view, whether in the cinema or on television, the most beautiful images are those in natural light. But you still have to have a good story to tell…
Shooting outdoors is a lost art due to the unpredictability of the weather. Mainly because it is very expensive. And that’s a huge logistical headache. Rare are those who face such a challenge.
Just over half of the footage in the miniseries Respirer (Keep Breathing; Netflix) was shot in a forest near Vancouver. Aesthetically, the result is magnificent and has little to envy compared to The Revenant (2015) – also shot in Western Canada -, the event film by the great Alejandro G. Iñárritu.
The two works have something else in common: they are about survival. Breathe tells the story of Liv, a New York lawyer of Mexican descent who finds himself alone with nature after the plane that was supposed to take her to Inuvik crashes.
The series’ six episodes (about 200 minutes in total) make us witness the young woman’s efforts to reclaim civilization.
So far good. The problem is that not much happens there. Between Liv’s explorations, her efforts to control the fire, and her search for food, the young woman spends a lot of time reflecting on her past. And it’s deadly boring.
Worse, this backtracking leads nowhere. They consist of a mix of hallucinations, memories, and dreams that certainly help us understand Liv better, but have little to do with her survival efforts. We wait three hours for the great revelation of the past that will give meaning to the present. In vain.
Breathing is therefore a metaphorical sequence. We realize that Liv was just as lost in life as she’s been since her plane crashed into the woods.
Her survival efforts turn into an exploratory quest in which she finally tries to turn the page of an event that touched her deeply two decades earlier, when she was just a child.
Visually daring and sophisticated, Respirer seeks to distance itself from works of the genre by giving itself a philosophical dimension. The exercise is original, but the result is a true torture for the soul.
(Two out of five stars)
(Since Friday on Disney+)
The Predator franchise has seen more lows than highs since the original 1987 movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Set 300 years ago, this highly anticipated feature film chronicles the battle between a young Comanche and one of the first predators to land on Earth.
Riverdale – Season 6
Locke & Key – Season 3
Two of the most popular series in Netflix history are set to run one last time this week: Comedy-drama Riverdale bows out on Sunday; the demonic Locke & Key will do the same on Wednesday.
Your own competition
(On Prime Friday)
During World War II, after the men went to war, women launched their own professional baseball league. This eight-episode series is based on the 1992 cult film starring Tom Hanks and Geena Davis.
Five days at Memorial
(On Apple TV+ Friday)
Vera Farmiga (Lorraine Warren in the Conjuring saga) stars in this eight-episode series that chronicles the heroic (and very real) efforts of New Orleans hospital staff during 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
(On Netflix Friday)
Another Netfilx exclusive whose cast (Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dogg and Dave Franco) impresses more than its premise (a dad whose boring job as a janitor is just a lure to his true calling: vampire hunter).