starring Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Sandra Bullock
screenplay by Zak Olkewicz, based on the book by Kôtarô Isaka
directed by David Leitch
by Walter Chaw I have so many thoughts about David Leitch's Bullet Train, and I don't think a single one of them coheres with any of the other ones. This is most likely a product of general exhaustion, or a lifetime misspent on excess consumption of media colliding now in middle-age with my becoming somehow the go-to for Amer-Asian-splaining of representational issues in American cinema. Like the whole "whitewashing" thing going on around Bullet Train, which is based on a popular Japanese novel by Kôtarô Isaka, who is pleased people like Brad Pitt and Brian Tyree Henry are in this big-budget Hollywood adaptation because it raises his profile internationally. Sony Pictures, whose parent company is Japanese, has already come out saying the same stupid shit about how much they wanted to honour the Japanese source material by hiring the best actors for the project--who happen to be Not Japanese--while Asian-Americans are rightfully outraged about the same stupid shit because of how much damage this ingrained corporate "wisdom" continues to wreak on the Asian-American community. If we continue to pull on this thread, we find Isaka has stolen the entire premise and execution of his book from Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino, who, as we know, have stolen their things from British New Wave gangster flicks on the one hand, Asian cinema on the other--Asian cinema that has its roots in, what, Kurosawa? Whose favourite filmmaker was John Ford? And who was ripped off by Italian guy Sergio Leone, who was ripped off by Sam Peckinpah, who was ripped off by Hong Kong legend John Woo, who was ripped off by everybody for a while there. There's a scene in Bullet Train where Brad Pitt and Brian Tyree Henry, both playing hitmen, fight each other in tight quarters that is awfully reminiscent of Jackie Chan. Another scene recalls Louis Leterrier, who probably learned it from Jet Li--and neither Chan nor Li is Japanese, of course.